TIFF Next Wave

5 films to watch at TIFF Next Wave 2012

This year, TIFF has dramatically (and wisely) split its bloated Sprockets Film Festival into two smaller entities: TIFF Kids for the under-12 lot and TIFF Next Wave for those with a bit more experience under their belts. The former wrapped up a few weeks ago and was a massive hit, filling the Lightbox with sprawling mass of children and showcasing some engaging family programs (and some glaring Disney promotions as well..) but now the tide has turned to TIFF Next Wave, the film festival specifically geared to and partially curated by teenagers.

Included in the festival are films programmed for teens and in the Jump Cuts program, films made by teens. (Trivia, I had a film in Jump Cuts over a decade ago!) Much like TIFF Kids, the festival encompasses more than just film and looks to provide the next generation with creative possibilities in other mediums as well. The Battle of the Scores is a great showcase for our "next wave" of musicians, while the video game component offers a chance to collaborate and develop skills in new media.

My only complaint is the short time frame. The festival runs only three days from Thursday May 10 to Saturday May 12, the first two days of which only include a handful of morning screenings for students. It could easily have been extended a day or two to allow more of the films a chance to be screened twice.

Six teen bands were given three weeks to re-score one of the Jump Cuts short films from a previous year. Their interpretations will be showcased on the big screen in Cinema 2 while the band plays along live. Audience participation plus a panel of judges will select the winner. This ain't no Glee club.

Is it possible to have a quarter life crisis? You bet. Ryan O'Nan's feature directorial debut follows Alex (played by O'Nan), a 20-something whose life comes crashing down only to give way to transformative experience out on the road with an off-kilter musician he meets in the midst of his depression. Although focused on the characters' musical dreams, the film is every bit an allegory for the pursuit of a filmmaking career, and thus a perfect fit at this festival. Also screens Saturday at 3:15 p.m.

SATURDAY MAY 12 / 17 GIRLS / 12:00PM
French directors Delphine Coulin and Muriel Coulinon give a French spin to the Massachusetts "pregnancy pact" scandal of 2008. In their version, the group of teen mothers are more feminist than desperate, eager to start their own lives as young mothers together, but they are also more vulnerable, growing up in a town where their only opportunity to coax adulthood is through motherhood. While their parents are baffled, the girls are confident but seem to understand grimly the limited return on their "choice."

It's hard to believe that this film is 17 years old, but at the same time it's encouraging because its story of discontent transcends its initial historical context. La Haine is a great, if startling film that explodes the simmering discontent between French authorities and youth in a racially mixed housing project. In the aftermath of yet another race riot, three youths find an abandoned police gun and find it hard not to crave justice for the previous nights brutality, at least, where they can.

Matthew Lillard (yes, that guy from Scream and Wing Commander) has found a great career for his later-life. As a director of Fat Kid Rules the World, he manages to balance teen anxiety and comedy in the adaptation of the book by the same name. An overweight teen is befriended by a recently expelled classmate and the unlikely pair somehow become friends. When it's clear that the differences between them can spell redemption in the other, things start to get interesting. A great first feature — I look forward to more.

TIFF Next Wave runs from Thursday May 10 to Saturday May 12 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Tickets can be purchased online and at the theatre. For more information, visit the TIFF Next Wave website.

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