2020 marks the eighth annual TIFF Next Wave Film Festival. The festival, which always falls on a winter weekend, ran from February 14-16 this year. The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival is special—the selections are made by a committee of 12 students ranging in age from 15 to 18. Each committee member has diverse tastes, but they all have one thing in common: a passion for film. There’s another thing that makes Next Wave noteworthy: the movie tickets are free for anyone under 25.
This year, I attended TIFF Next Wave for the first time. TIFF Next Wave kicked off with a killer-sounding opening night party on Friday the 14th, complete with dynamic musical performances. I opted to begin my more leisurely Next Wave journey on Saturday. I secured tickets for CRSHD, a female-driven sex comedy, Selah and the Spades, a mob-style film set in a prep school (!!), and the Young Creators Showcase, a programme of shorts made by young, emerging filmmakers. As a young, emerging filmmaker myself, I was pumped to see the creative genius being generated by my contemporaries.
I decided to see CRSHD on a whim, and I’m so glad I did. It was everything I wanted Booksmart to be. CRSHD is a hilarious, savvy female-led romp with a lot of heart. This film is one of few I’ve seen that show digital culture as not just an accessory, but a shaping force within young lives especially. This film cleverly uses talking-head scenes to allow the actors to read the texts and posts they make out loud, proving that it is possible to make the online world visually exciting. In the post-screening Q&A, director Emily Cohn discussed how she had pitched this project as a TV show, including giving executives a glossary of relevant terms; for instance, “f*** boy, e-boy/e-girl, soft boy, art hoe”. As many in the crowd pointed out, the Breakfast Club-style stereotypes of jocks and nerds no longer apply to the social world as it is today—with CRSHD portraying something much more current and honest.
The other feature I had the pleasure of viewing was Selah and The Spades. Selah is quite an interesting little film, taking the antiheroes and high stakes of the mob genre and transposing them onto a prep school. It didn’t always work for me (I found the pacing dragged at times), but it felt very fresh. The director, Tayarisha Poe, went on to mention that she is a big fan of properties like The Sopranos, The Godfather, and Breaking Bad, but she wanted to give someone else license to be bad and also be rooted for—namely, a young black woman. This, combined with the wonderfully bold aesthetic (“savage formalism”, Poe notes, is what her team termed the film’s distinct visual language) makes the film well worth a watch.
Lastly, I attended the Young Creators Showcase, which included 14 shorts made by young Canadian talent. A common thread between the films involved exploring a rich variety of cultural viewpoints, many in conflicted discourse over what it means and how it feels to also be Canadian. I found Pick and No Crying At The Dinner Table really connected with me emotionally; the quirky humour of Yolk and Bananas Stand Up Straight stood out as well. That said, there wasn’t a film of the bunch that I didn’t enjoy.
My experience at the 2020 TlFF Next Wave Festival has me eager for next year. Hope I’ll see some of you there! ♦