On Feb. 16, 2020, 14 young filmmakers showed their films at the TIFF Next Wave Young Creators Showcase.

Photobooth at the TIFF Next Wave

The TIFF showcase aims to inspire young people interested in film and help filmmakers establish their place in the film industry.

Onyeka Oduh’s personal film, Boy Before, delved into the delicate ideas of gender identity and religion in a young teen’s life, reflective of their journey as a queer, non-binary person who grew up Catholic and Pentecostal Christian.

Onyeka Oduh, filmmaker of Boy Before

Oduh made the film so other Humber students would have courage to tell their own stories “because they are important.” The Humber College alumni hoped others “won’t see resistance from the powers that be.”

Boy Before “was a love letter to that kid in me that was able to learn and grow from their experiences,” Oduh said, “to become the best version of one’s self.”

“I learned to defend myself, my story, my characters, my choices and my crew while making this film and it is something that I will take with me into the next project that I make,” Oduh said.

Do Turtles Swim in Maple Syrup?, was a film created by Paul-Daniel Torres to celebrate Toronto and show Latin-Canadians on screen.

Paul-Daniel Torres, filmmaker of Do Turtles Swim in Maple Syrup?

Torres’ film showed a teen struggling to decide between “succumbing to racial stereotypes or fight for a better life.”

Through Torres’ choice of music and visuals, he wanted racialized audiences to know that we’re more than the stereotypes and prejudices that people have for us,” and “we, the individual, hold the power to decide who we become,” Torres said.

Torres encountered challenges and losses of crew members and motivation while making Do Turtles Swim in Maple Syrup?.

Andrew Stevenson, the program coordinator for film and television at Humber College, said film festivals encourage students to produce bold films that wouldn’t be seen in class.

“Film brings together all different types of sensory experiences,” Stevenson said, “with dramatic visuals and a tapestry of sounds.”

Film is “the most powerful tool” to communicate with audiences, Stevenson said, “you can be sure that the audience is fully immersed in the story that you’re telling.”

Young filmmakers encounter many challenges when making films, everything from financial to technical obstacles, Stevenson said.

“You have inspiration and you have to figure out what you want to say,” Stevenson said, “and it is increasingly difficult to do in the world we live in today.”

TIFF audience member Hope Drawl said all the films were very unique and showcase different aspects of Toronto and society.

“Even though I’m not a filmmaker myself I just really appreciate and love films and all the production and everything that goes into films,” Drawl said.