2015 TIFF’s The Next Wave Film Festival – Day 2

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***The Next Wave Film Festival is a film program this is dedicated to youth between the ages of 14-18. Movies from around the world are shown at TIFF (Toronto’s home of the annual film festival). This includes special guests, workshops, and a film challenge for youth filmmakers. There’s also a committee that consists of twelves students that selected from a group of film aficionados.

More info and schedules here: http://www.tiff.net/festivals/nextwave15/about-next-wave

And here: http://www.tiff.net/festivals/nextwave15/nextwavecommittee

For the first time, These Girls On Film is proud to bring you some reviews and insights into the films screened for the festival from February 13-15th.***

This batch of capsule reviews by Jacqueline Valencia.

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Boy 7

Director: Lourens Blok

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It’s still odd to me that international films are “niche” for movie goers in the West. Film festivals is where I feel this constantly. There are so many films made each year that would earn top billing and play to huge box office, if it had recognizable actors and if it were made in English. The case here for Lourens Blok’s is that it’s beautiful to look at, smartly written, and it eerily prescient. Sam (Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen) is a young man who wakes up in the subway not remembering much, but an enigma of a girl named Laura (Ella-June Henrard). They’re in The Netherlands which is now a police state that performs strange obstacle course-like experiments on its youth. Sam is confused by the fog in his head, but moments clarity come to him like a computer rebooting itself. The lens sets tightly clean and sterile tone, much like one would imagine an environment in the future, digitally rendered and sleek. The characters fall in line with this aesthetic; they all could have fallen out of a teen fashion magazine.

It’s this intelligent palette and combined with the Orwellian atmosphere that makes the film that much scarier: a future world of youth programmed into drones. Generations of children have been growing up to dictated fashion and behaviour models. Boy 7 brings the dystopia as an almost present truth. Films like Divergent, The Giver, and The Hunger Games speak to that dystopia and Boy 7 is no different. I found it fascinatingly better to look at that than the others. This is why I mention that I wish international films played here the same way Western cinema does.

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The Word

Director: Anna Kazejak

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Teen angst. It’s what growth is made of and where several roads diverge to form either a learning path or a devastating change. Lila is fourteen and in love with her boyfriend Janek. She finds out that he has kissed another girl at a party and hell quietly breaks loose. Simmering with anger for the betrayal, Lila uses social media and the internet to passive aggressively dismiss and provoke Janek who pleads endlessly for her forgiveness.

Eliza Rycembel is wonderful as Lila, and the camera sets close to her, distantly observing while the audience tries to decipher her actions and moods. The stillness of this film is jarring, almost something is going to break, and it will. However, the fun thing is that while the audience is given a pulsating suspense build, they are given a nuanced relief. We are left to parse the actions of the characters by placing ourselves in their minds as we try to unlock Lila’s motivations. Her world is mostly entirely built in her head by her without little input from her family, thus it comes as a shock when she finally pleads for that input.

Although some might interpret the film (even though it is based on a true story), as a cautionary tale, there’s nothing that prevents it from being set in an adult world, not just the teenage head.

This is Anna Kazejak’s debut feature and I hope to see more from this Polish director. The Word is a gripping tale that will leave you pondering.

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Lily and Kat

Director: Micael Preysler

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Lily (Jessica Rothe) and Kat (Hannah Murray) are girls who are living the times of their lives together in NYC. Things take a sharp turn when Kat announces that she’s leaving for London. Lily is angered and frightened of the losing the closest tie she’s had her whole life. However, it is soon proven that they both might have outlived the relationship a long time ago. Rivalries surface as the Kat’s free spirit collides with the Lily’s more cautious soul. To make matters worse they both fall for a charming artist and in the seven days left together, the girls source the last of their friendship and come to terms with the toxicity they still hold.

I keep raving about the scores of these films, but Lily and Kat is fused with analog synths and dream-y 80s ethos that it’s hard to sit back and not think of older teen flicks. The girls dance around the screen, with every instance of their potential illuminated in the cityscape. The night drives and walks are what call exploration and danger and while the story gets deep, there’s a penetrating energy in all of the scenes. The main leads are actress to closely look out for.

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jackie1

http://tiff.net/festivals/nextwave15/schedule

Rowena Santos Aquino’s review of GIRLHOOD up at Next Projection: http://nextprojection.com/2015/02/14/afi-film-fest-2014-girlhood-review/

TIFF NEXT WAVE TRAILER PLAYLIST:

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