This year, the Toronto International Film Festival has dedicated an entire program to films chosen by youth to appeal to youth – the Next Wave program. These films focus on subject matter that is highly relevant to the next generation of filmgoers, and often predominantly feature young actors in their casts. Although these films may be aimed towards youth, they are to be taken no less seriously than any other works that the Festival has to offer, and can certainly be enjoyed by those of all ages who care about the issues of today and tomorrow.
Men, Women & Children
Canadian director Jason Reitman returns to the Festival with Men, Women & Children (2014) in this ensemble drama based on the novel by Chad Kultgen and starring Judy Greer, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Emma Thompson. Reitman examines the ways in which the Internet has changed the relationships and modes of communication between generations by focusing his film on a group of teenagers and their parents. Such a topic will certainly fascinate filmgoers of all ages, especially those who can relate to the challenges presented by new technology.
Keira Knightley stars as Megan, a loafer in her late twenties who realizes that she is dissatisfied with her life and decides to spend a week living with a teenager in order to rectify it in Lynn Shelton’s film Laggies (2014). Young phenomenon Chloë Grace Moretz plays Megan’s new friend Annika, and this hot teen starlet will be sure to draw a crowd of adoring young fans. The idea that an adult must spend time with an adolescent in order to mature is an intriguing concept, and this coming-of-age tale promises to provide moments of thoughtfulness along with its comedy.
Audiences love films that bring together senior citizens and youth, and director Lindsay MacKay presents just that in her Canadian film Wet Bum (2014). This film stars 2014 TIFF Rising Star Julia Sarah Stone as a young girl struggling with her self image who befriends two residents at the senior residence where she works. Wet Bum is worth checking out if only for the performance of Stone, who faced stiff competition this year to win the coveted Rising Star title, but also deserves mention due to the young age of its first time feature director MacKay, who appears to be a home-grown talent to watch.
X + Y
One of the hottest young actors of the moment, Asa Butterfield, stars in Morgan Matthews’ new film X + Y (2014). Butterfield plays Nathan, an autistic math prodigy who ends up on the British team at the International Mathematics Olympiad, and learns a lot more than equations from his unorthodox teacher Mr. Humphreys (Rafe Spall) and a host of new friends. Showing that everybody has a place where they belong – and excel – this film is sure to resonate with audiences both young and old alike, and to deliver performances to remember.
What We Do in the Shadows
Finally, for something completely different, directing team Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement present What We Do in the Shadows (2014), a mockumentary style film that takes a tongue-in-cheek look at a trio of vampires living in present day New Zealand. These three housemates face similar daily struggles as everybody else, their appetite for human blood notwithstanding. When the group must initiate a newly made vampire into their world, they end up learning a lot about what it means to be human. Fresh, fun, and dryly comic, this film promises to bring the laughs for young audiences looking for a non-traditional film to watch at the Festival.