Before Steven Spielberg was winning awards and creating blockbuster movies, he was simply a young teen with big dreams. Steven won an award for a 40-minute movie he created at 13 and, by 16, he was directing his first independent film. Today, he’s the man who brought classics like E.T., Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones to life on the big screen.
For more than just movie fans, TIFF is here to help kick start your film career and put your passion into action with their third annual TIFF Next Wave Film Festival, programmed for youth ages 14-18. The special three day event, taking place from February 14-16 will feature “the best in film from around the globe, along with an exciting slate of special guests, interactive workshops and a 24-Hour Film Challenge for young filmmakers.”
This year will feature a lineup of exciting guests including actor/writer and producer Taylor Hill along with director Gary Hawes of Leap 4 Your Life, a mockumentary about a community dance competition, and directors Andrew and Adam Gray of Fly Colt Fly, a documentary that follows teenage fugitive Colton Harris-Moore, who escaped capture by stealing airplanes.
Being introduced this year is the new TIFF Next Wave Film Festival Mural, which will be in the atrium of TIFF Bell Lightbox, and serve as a unique and creative space for teenagers to share responses to the question, “What film inspires you?”
While the festival offers quality film programming and film-related events, the best part is that it’s an event for teens, guided by teens. The festival is steered by a volunteer advisory team consisting of 12 teens who put their ideas and suggestions together to help make TIFF Next Wave the best festival it can be.
Faze had the opportunity to talk to two of this year’s members: 17-year-olds Feaven Abidta and Maiesha Zarin.
This is Feaven’s first time on the committee and the movie that she claims changed everything for her was An Education, because it was the first one she had seen where the story focused more on the girl’s relationship with herself than with her significant other.
Maiesha is participating on the committee for her second year and dreams of winning an academy award for best original screenplay, after being changed by Silver Linings Playbook.
These two girls are hoping to share their love for the big screen and expose other teens to a world of film that goes beyond popular favourites like The Hunger Games.
They gave Faze the scoop on their experience leading the council and what teens can look forward to at TIFF Next Wave.
What attracted you to apply for the role as a committee member for the TIFF Next Wave Festival?
Maiesha: I was intrigued by the idea of TIFF having a committee specifically designed and geared towards young people. TIFF has an incredible range of offerings, from their annual Toronto International Film Festival, to all the year-round programming at TIFF Bell Lightbox, so when I heard they also had a film festival for teens, I was very excited. I wanted to be a part of that movement and offer my passion and help get teens interested and involved in this festival. When I first got word that TIFF was looking for Next Wave Committee members, I read up on what the Committee did and I knew I had to be a part of it right away.
Feaven: I’ve always been interested in TIFF, but for a long time, it seemed that getting involved in any capacity meant I had to be eighteen. Luckily enough, I eventually found out about TIFF Next Wave from a friend and it was the answer to my dilemma. I immediately knew I wanted to apply, because I think
teenagers are often underestimated or overlooked and there’s really no other opportunity like TIFF Next Wave for young film lovers and film makers in Toronto to get exposure to all sorts of films and the film industry.
What are some of your favourite films that will be showcased this year?
Maeisha: Leap 4 Your Life was definitely a film I really enjoyed. It’s a mockumentary that focuses on the lives of 4 teens and their families as they prepare for an upcoming dance competition. It’s funny but a little ridiculous which makes it all the more better. I’m so excited about the Cult Classics: Teen Rebels Movie Marathon, which will feature films like Juno and Scott Pilgrim (filmed right here in Toronto), because these are movies I can go back to anytime and still find entertaining.
Feaven: Out of all the films we picked, my favourite would definitely have to be For No Eyes Only—it’s a German thriller that’s been described as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window updated for modern audiences and it leaves you wondering what can happen in a world where we now have a loss of privacy due to the growing use of technology. I’m also looking forward to Mean Girls, as it’s managed to strongly resonate
with teens (having spawned hundreds of Tumblr memes and lines regularly quoted in real-life conversations) and offers a funny but surprisingly accurate observation of high school cliques.
Why do you think this is important for teens to have a festival like this with movies focusing on unique themes?
Feaven: Unlike other teen events, this is a festival for teens that was helped programmed by teens (not just adults), so there’s an authenticity in what we all felt was important to share with other teenagers in the city. By focusing on a unique theme like Cult Classics: Teen Rebels for the movie marathon, the TIFF Next Wave Committee was able to narrow down and choose films that we felt would really resonate with our audience and be the most accurate reflection of what the lives of our peers are like.
Maiesha: I think teens get underestimated when it comes to how passionate and knowledgeable they can be about movies. This festival is really important in the sense that it gives them a festival that is specifically catered for them, with movies that are universal in a teen’s life no matter who they are or where they come from. Teens can watch these movies and participate in the festival’s events (such as the 24-Hour Film Challenge or Battle of the Scores) and see that there are so many other teens who like what they do.