TIFF 2013: Spotlight Series – Focus on Youth

For the third year running, the TIFF 2013 programmers have included the TIFF Next Wave Committee, a group of fifteen-to-eighteen-year-old film enthusiasts who hand pick the movies to be featured in the youth-oriented Next Wave program. Our picks include selections from this program that feature talented young actors, some of which are already established stars in their own right.

How I Live Now

This adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s successful young adult novel How I Live Now is directed by Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland) and stars the youthful yet prolific Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Lovely Bones). The story begins in a futuristic world on the eve of World War Three and is told through the eyes of troubled teenager Daisy (Ronan), who is dealing with her own troubles. MacDonald’s directing promises a heavy focus on character, and with talented Ronan at the film’s centre, we can be sure to be in for an emotional and psychological journey.

Beneath the Harvest Sky

Seasoned documentary filmmakers Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly foray into fictional filmmaking with Beneath the Harvest Sky, starring rising young talents Emory Cohen (The Place Beyond the Pines) and Callan McAuliffe (The Great Gatsby). In Beneath the Harvest Sky, two friends want nothing more than to escape their dull Maine town for exciting Boston; however, this quest leads them down very different paths. The troubles associated with adolescence are explored in a film that has the potential to propel the young actors it features into stardom.

Beneath The Harvest Sky

The F Word

Another New Wave selection, The F Word stars Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as best friends with too much romantic chemistry to remain as such. Directed by Canadian Michael Dowse (Goon), this sweet romantic comedy promises laughs amidst emotion and sensitivity. Also appearing in the festival in the decidedly darker films Horns and Kill Your Darlings, young actor Danielle Radcliffe never fails to impress.


Mia Wasikowska, also appearing in this year’s festival in The Double, propels this film depicting the true story of Robyn Davidson, a young lady who journeyed across the Australian Outback alone and on foot. Based on the travelogue of the same name, Tracks portrays Robyn’s physical journey as well as her quest for self-discovery. The severe landscape of the Outback provides an ever-changing canvas on which the always-mesmerizing Wasikowska crafts what promises to be a stunning performance.


Palo Alto

Directed by newcomer Gia Coppola and based on a book of short stories by James Franco by the same name, Palo Alto chronicles the stories of several Californian teenagers struggling to make connections and find purpose in their lives. Depicting varied characters dealing with diverse troubles, this film will be universally relatable to youth and those who remember that time in their lives. It will also be exciting to see this young director make her debut amidst the stellar reputations of her famous and talented family.

Exit Marrakech

Hailing from Germany, Exit Marrakech tells the story of a seventeen-year-old boy who falls for a young woman while vacationing in beautiful Morocco. Directed by Academy Award winner Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa for Best Foreign Film), the film also explores the dynamics of a crumbling father-son relationship. Emotional performances pair with beautiful cinematography in what promises to become a classic story of young love.

Exit Marrakech

Photo Credits: Toronto International Film Festival