Olivia Peace’s first feature film Tahara could well be the start of a promising career for the talented director. A Sundance and TIFF Next Wave official selection, with great performances from Rachel Sennott (as Hannah) and Madeline Gray DeFreece (as Carrie), this interesting coming-of-age feature film is a must-watch.
Tahara follows Hannah and her fellow Hebrew school classmates Carrie and Triston. Another classmate Samantha has recently committed suicide, and so the film documents a full day of the students in the synagogue, mourning her death. The film explores how Hannah manipulates Carrie, a young queer teenager, into kissing her and depicts the increasingly growing tension between them.
Certain aspects of Tahara are refreshingly original. The occasional addition of two-dimensional scenes emphasizes the characters’ various mental states. For example, when Hannah is upset and draws on her page, her small drawings come to life and float around the screen. This detail is not only meaningful but also unique.
Here’s The Rundown
Cinematography: There are many cinematography details to appreciate in Tahara, particularly the change in aspect ratios. The film follows an aspect ratio of 1:1, creating a square; however, when Carrie and Hannah are shown kissing, the ratio slowly moves into 16:9. This is perhaps done to emphasize how important the kiss is for Carrie, and it helps the viewer to understand exactly how Carrie feels in that moment. When they kiss for the first time, we do not see the two people but instead there’s a slow-motion clip of them to convey that this is Carrie’s perfect fantasy dream.
The film uses dark pastels and its colour palette adds an artistic touch to the film. The use of natural light also contributes to the overall aesthetic look of the film.
Music: The two songs bookending the film certainly add an extra touch to its appeal. Tahara opens with a fun, energetic song and ends with a melancholy tune, in keeping with the film’s mood. Music compliments the overall aesthetics and matches the mood of the film. The atmosphere of the scenes is accentuated by the well-chosen musical score which further help to heighten the stakes of the conflict between the film’s characters.
Watch the trailer here:
Tahara is being showcased at the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival
TIFF is calling young people from across Canada to come together at home to celebrate this year’s TIFF Next Wave Film Festival, running February 12–15, 2021. The festival — which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year — will be held online via digital TIFF Bell Lightbox and TIFF social media channels, making the best youth narratives available to viewers across the country for the first time.
Curated for youth, by youth, the titles selected for this year’s lineup demonstrate the power, tenacity, and steadfastness of the next generation, and feature stories of self-discovery and community. The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival offers FREE films for anyone under 25. Complete festival details, including the list of film titles, schedules, and ticket information, are available at tiff.net/nextwave.
BONUS: Faze had a chance to ask TIFF Next Wave Film Festival Committee member Andrea Landaeta a few questions…
How did you become a member of the committee?
I first heard about the Next Wave Film Festival around summer of 2019, and I immediately thought “this is the absolute coolest thing I have ever heard of and I need to know more right now.” I had no experience in anything film-related (I don’t even go to an arts school), but I just knew I had to at least apply. When applications opened up on the Next Wave site for the 2020-2021 year, I spent a solid month editing/rewriting/overthinking the script I wrote for my application video. I put up a bedsheet on my wall, filmed the video on my crappy phone camera, wore my nicest Hawaiian shirt, and completely ignored my script and followed my gut instead (so much for all that overthinking).
About a month later, I got an interview, and I vividly remember that they asked me, “Who would your ‘film parents’ be?”, which I think really shows how easygoing and warm the atmosphere here is. (My answer was Keanu, btw.) Applying to the TIFF Next Wave Committee is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I completely recommend it to anyone who’s passionate about movies and stories! My advice: listen to your gut, always.
How has your experience as a member been?
My time on the Next Wave Committee has been a really amazing time. I’ve gotten to meet so many incredible people and watch so many good movies! Even though programming for a virtual festival has been a challenge, I’m so proud of all the work we’ve done and it’s been incredibly rewarding. Next Wave has a huge focus on amplifying the voices of diverse filmmakers and telling stories that are usually silenced, and this year’s film lineup reflects that perfectly.
Representation is something that’s really important to me and that I wish I had more of growing up, and it means so much to me to have been able to work for a festival that prioritizes exactly that.
What is your favourite film from the festival and why?
They’re all so amazing, it’s hard to pick just one…. but I have to say Scales, directed by Shahad Ameen. I love mermaid lore, I love magical realism, I love stories that use mythology as an allegory for the oppression of women…what more could I possibly ask for?
Watching Scales feels like listening to a fairytale or a poem; it’s minimalist dialogue and stunning cinematography makes it feel even more otherworldly. It’s such a powerful and moving film, I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I first watched it months ago.
If you could only watch one film for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Into the Spider-Verse for sure! It’s my all-time favorite movie, I could watch it forever on repeat and never get tired. The music, the animation, the characters are all absolutely perfect, and there is nothing I would change about it. I’ve seen it about six times since it came out and every time I find something I hadn’t noticed before, and I always find something new to love about it. It is literally the cinematic gift that keeps on giving. If I had to watch this movie for the rest of my life, I think I would die happy.