***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
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.***
Highlights on the festival so far have been the amount of diversity in the directors, writers, and actors in these films. It’s rare that a festival takes a great effort in trying to bring stories and artists that have a chance at resonating so well with it’s audience. It’s imperative that filmmakers and anyone involved in film take progressive strides in representing its viewers because as times goes on, the youth of today becomes discerning and demanding of more from the film presented to them. There must be representation for a growing consumer base, but that base must also speak out more with their wallets. There’s more agency within today’s generation with this and maybe this is a sign of hope for better films, not just for youth, but more all ages in general.
On the last day of Next Wave, our site would like to take the space to review a film that stood out for us.
On Chang Jung-chi’s Partners In Crime (2014)
This film isn’t a sleuth caper flick. It’s a desolate tale of the world that exists in our brains in school. At least, for some of us.
Huang (Wu Chien-ho) is a loner kid who gets bullied often. Yeh (Cheng Kai-yuan) is a jock with a bit of a badass attitude. Lin (Deng Yu-kai) is a brainer who only finds friends from those looking for test answers. Together they find the body of a young girl named Hsia Wei-chiao (Yao Ai-ning). Her death is ruled a suicide, but the boys become curious about her and decide to find out more about her. In turn, they find a few answers which lead them into a world built out of gossip, teenage hopes/romanticism, all with possible fatal consequences.
Cinematographer Jimmy Yu’s lens in this film is a palette combination of white, green and ethereal blue, setting a quiet atmosphere among the complex characters. The architecture is brick, new mortar, amongst old decay. The kids congregate in game rooms, corners in the alleyways, and fields where worn, discarded appliances rest. These worlds within worlds are a relatable allegory to the politics and culture within teenage hood. School is all for the classmates, they see each other every day, yet they hardly know each other outside of their interests and cliques. They know each other through social media, but don’t acknowledge each other in real life. Hsia’s mother asks the trio how they her daughter, even asking Huang if he is her boyfriend. She wonders out loud what could have driven her daughter to suicide, unaware the toll her absence in the home must have felt for her Hsia. As the boys look into Hsia’s life, the classmates around them chatter about everything surrounding the suicide via the internet or the reliable school’s reliable rumour networks.
Partners In Crime is a slow moving film at times, but the pull to it is in its ability to grab the heartache in isolation, misunderstanding and conjecture. It’s an interesting study on how bonds can form in the oddest circumstances and how those same attachments can be a saving grace or a detriment. Jung-chi gathers a cast with a clear understanding of how intense teenage-hood can be, even in the most simplest of times. There’s a beautiful scene set in a hidden lake by the school. As Huang, Yeh, and Lin look on at the small respite of greenery among the concrete city, their eyes light up like children who found their first playground. They go from teens dealing with very adult situations to vulnerable innocents looking for adventure. It’s a moment evoking a need for protection or a capture of a fleeting wonder.
It’s not a light hearted fare, but Partners In Crime is a cautionary story that renders its subject matter with a dose of reality. There are no big explosions or the times of their lives here. It’s a film that begs you to look up from the inner world and connect with humanity, especially at the ages that we need it most.