TIFF Next Wave Committee on the the Future of Film

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The TIFF Next Wave Film Festival is back to celebrate the future of talent in the movie industry. Running from February 16 to 18, the festival will be screening movies from seven first-feature filmmakers, showcasing new and diverse voices. TIFF Next Wave will also be hosting a day of filmmaking workshops and panels designed for young creators, and a curated movie marathon under the theme of bringing the heat. And the best part? All regular screenings and Movie Marathon screenings are FREE for anyone under 25!

As always, this festival is spearheaded by the TIFF Next Wave Committee, an advisory team made up of 12 youth from across the GTA who are dedicated to bringing quality film programming and film-related even lovers across the city. This year, the committee is dominated by young women, compromising over 70% of the overall team. The committee places an important role selecting films that attest to our current culture and sociopolitical atmosphere.

Haikun (Steven) Lui, Natalie Kaufman, Tania Faria and Chloe Bhumgara, four Next Wave Committee Members give us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the creative process, dynamic of the committee and the future of filmmaking.

The 2018 TIFF Next Wave Committee celebrates the next generation of filmmakers. (Photo courtesy of TIFF) 

Can you tell us about the creative process that goes into planning the TIFF Next Wave Film Festival?

Natalie: We start by watching a list of films shortlisted for the festival, and from there we ask ourselves if this is a Next Wave film: interesting, popcorn-worthy, youth-oriented, and often bringing a new perspective or story to the table. One of the great things about having a large committee is that we all have different opinions and experiences, and together we can create a film lineup with something for anyone.

How did you get involved with the TIFF Next Wave Committee?

Haikun (Steven): Personally, I found out about the Next Wave Committee through the TIFF summer filmmaking programs. I was initially interested in doing the filmmaking summer program but it was full already, so I was referred to the Next Wave Committee. It looked interesting so I applied. 

Natalie: I heard of the Next Wave Festival in ninth grade, and it was love at first sight. I loved the atmosphere, and I was getting the opportunity to see films I wouldn’t otherwise have access to. As a film enthusiast who gets super excited about Next Wave every year, I knew I had to apply for the Committee next chance I had. And the rest is history.

Chloe: I came to the festival in 2016 as an audience member and was taken aback by the incredible films I saw and the prospect of being a part of the programming team. I remember specifically the experience of seeing a film called Ayanda – the film takes place in Johannesburg, a city that I have a strong connection to. I had never seen South Africa portrayed in such a positive way on screen before, and that experience opened my eyes up to a lot of worldwide cinema. After the film, one of the Next Wavers (someone who is now a good friend of mine) held a Q&A with the director of the film – I wanted to see myself on that stage and providing that same kind of experience for someone else.

Tania: I attended the Next Wave festival last year because a friend had told me about it, but at the time, I wasn’t really aware that the TIFF Next Wave Committee existed. After having a few very extensive discussions about the films that we watched with my friend, which is what I hope some of the films we’ve programmed prompt people to do so as well, I went home and stumbled upon the Committee page while on the TIFF website. This led me to first joining the monthly film clubs, and then eventually applying for the committee. I was surprised when I got a call saying they were interested in interviewing me, but even more surprised when I actually got on the committee, after what I thought, was an atrocious interview. And the rest is history!  

[If you identify as female] How does identifying as female influence your creative process?

Chloe: As much as I subscribe to the notion that there is a certain level of universality in art, I also am a strong proponent of the importance of representation of marginalized peoples on screen. Feeling represented in film is so incredibly, unfathomably moving and validating and is something everyone should be able to experience. Being a woman, I find that I am very aware of when a female voice or perspective is lacking or counterfeit in a given story. Also, I find my personal film taste always centre around the representation of positive female relationships. When programming a festival lineup, I always try to be mindful of balance and inclusion – that all different kinds of teen experiences are found in our film lineup so that all different kinds of teens can feel visually and emotionally represented.

What advice would you give to young aspiring filmmakers who want to get involved with Next Wave, but may not know how?

Haikun (Steven): Just write the application. Be truthful and confident in your abilities. You do not need to be an expert in film, all you need is a passion for it. Also, don't think that you need to be in an arts school to be accepted - I am not. I applied for Next Wave without having a lot of knowledge about film but I had the desire to learn more about it, and that is the most important thing.”

What do you think the next generation of filmmakers will do differently than the last? What will tomorrow’s filmmakers bring to the table?

Tania: The next generation of filmmakers will bring unconventionality and experimentation to the table. Now more than ever, we have have everything we need at our fingertips. All you need is an idea.


For a more information including full list programming and ticket information, please visit tiff.net/nextwave