TIFF Next Wave Festival adapts to an online rollout

Young creators made waves at the TIFF Next Waves Festival, showing off an incredibly diverse set of short films

Poster for TIFF Next Wave Festival
The TIFF Next Wave Festival has found ways to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, even in their usage of creative branding strategies. Courtesy TIFF

A future Denis Villeneuve or James Cameron may have taken the (online) stage earlier this week, as the TIFF Next Wave showcased shorts from Canada’s next generation of filmmakers. 

TIFF has become a cultural icon in Toronto, cementing the city as a superpower in the film industry. The Next Wave Festival has furthered that notion, finding ways for young Canadians to broadcast their work on Canada’s most renowned stage. 

Though not able to show off their short films in person, young filmmakers were given the chance to reach a national audience at this year’s TIFF Next Wave festival. The pieces were instead featured online for rental through TIFF’s own streaming service.

Julia Woo, a member of the Next Wave committee, thinks this change can actually offer unforeseen benefits. 

“I’m incredibly excited about this year’s TIFF Next Wave Film Festival, as going online gives us the ability to grow our community across Canada,” said Woo on the Next Wave homepage. “Being able to showcase diverse, fresh, and authentic stories to young people across the country in a welcoming and accessible way is a Next Wave dream.”

The festivities opened up with an online dance party on Feb. 12, with live music from Tafari Anthony, and the Boosie Fade DJ duo, among others.

R&B artist Tafari Anthony performing at the opening night party for the TIFF Next Wave Festival

The festival also featured a live Q&A and discussion with Canadian actor and musician Finn Wolfhard. He recently made his directorial debut with his short film “Night Shifts.” 

The event is focused on giving young creators an opportunity to find their voice. Not only are the filmmakers representative of Canada’s youth, but the festival’s curator committee is run entirely by high school students in the GTA with a passion for film. 

According to the Next Wave web page, this group of 12 teenagers, age 15–18, exemplify Toronto’s diversity with their varying interests and aspirations when it comes to film. From filmmakers to movie buffs and hopeful event planners, a wide-range of views and opinions was a goal outlined by the selection committee.  

Fourteen short films were selected as part of the Young Creators Showcase. They varied from short hand drawn animations, to live-action, to multimedia/abstract pieces. There was even a claymation piece.

Tessa Hill, director of “this is a completely normal home movie,” made a pressing reflection on life during quarantine, the theme that defined this past year.

“It’s very much a COVID piece — this was made in the depths of the beginning of lockdown, around May,” Hill said. “I had been stuck in this routine, this isolation, and felt angsty having to back home and live with my parents.”

An animated short by Callahan Bracken, “My Head Aches When I Look Too Long,” examines queer identity in the internet age. Though themes of content overload can be attributed to something like the pandemic, his film seeks a more universal message. 

I Wanna Make a Movie, or I Wanna Die Trying‘ by Sydney Nicole Herauf uses monologues and a cowboy costume to convey how loyalty and friendships are tested when dreams come into play. This film and many others approach their messages without the need for quarantine undertones, which has lead to a refreshing series of pieces. 

The pandemic may have forced artistic processes to change, but youthfulness breeds an ability to adapt. Finding ways to explore and appreciate that diversity of young adulthood is what this festival truly highlights.

Despite an overwhelming sense of monotony this past year, everyone has their own story to tell. It’s more important than ever to tell those stories.

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Posted: Feb 17 2021 12:23 pm
Filed under: News

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Kai Gammage
Kai Gammage is an aspiring sports journalist and independent content creator, focusing mostly on basketball and American football. Currently in his 3rd year at Centennial College.