An Interview with TIFF Next Wave Programmer Dasola Dina

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Image credit: TIFF

TIFF Next Wave is a festival that got its start in 2012 with programming geared to young audiences and aspiring filmmakers. The films screened are decided upon by a committee of young people from across the Greater Toronto Area. It’s shorter than most festivals and features free screenings for those under 25. I really wanted to interview Next Wave programmer Dasola Dina after I attended a screening of Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust, where she drew connections between that beautiful movie and Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade.

How did you get involved with TIFF Next Wave?

I applied for the TIFF Next Wave Committee back in May of 2014. Basically, I was creeping Winnie [Wang] (they’re Next Wave alumni) on Twitter and they posted about being involved with this youth committee at TIFF and how anyone who is able should apply. I honestly just saw it as a really unique opportunity to get out of my suburb and interact with different kinds of people who might care about the kinds of movies that I do. Initially, I didn’t think I would be successful in the application process because at the time I didn’t consider myself to be a ~cinema buff ~ nor am I a filmmaker, but hey, it’s been three years so I must be doing something right! I want to work in film distribution so the past three years have been an amazing learning experience.

How do you go about getting young people to engage with film and film criticism?

Young people aren’t likely to be critical about things they don’t relate to. If people don’t see characters on screen or filmmakers behind the scenes who reflect their own appearance or personal experiences, then what’s the point? The key is to meaningfully diversify the content and, as a result, you’ll get a diverse and very vocal audience. The Next Wave Film Festival is a prime example of this. TIFF has been wonderful and given us the resources to speak candidly and choose the kinds of movies we want to see, and it worked. When my friends asked me why they should trek downtown for our festival, I told them that not only did we assemble a programme of films from nine different countries, but we hoped that each and every person could relate to some aspect of the movies.

What do you hope to achieve with Next Wave’s programming?

I really only have two goals with programming: to make it interesting and authentic. In my opinion, representation in film is completely pointless if there aren’t dynamic characters and filmmakers genuinely attached to the project. As a programmer, I’ve learnt that it’s not just about me and my own interests. If we are shown a film and I really cannot bear to continue watching, rather than blowing it off I stop to consider not only my own feelings but also the perspectives of other young people and why they might appreciate the content. I hope that with the movies I help choose it motivates young people to persevere and continue doing what they love in hopes of one day bringing about their own change to the industry.

If you had unlimited resources, what are some movies/discussions you’d like to see hosted at Next Wave?

  • I’m beyond tired of listening to non-Black people talk about how we should navigate the industry, so I would love to see even more opportunities for Black changemakers and filmmakers of all intersections (ethnic identity, sexuality, religious, gender, physical/mental abilities) to speak on their experiences in the film industry.

  • I was born in Ibadan and my family and I loved seeing Nigerian filmmakers represented at TIFF16 for the City to City programme so I would love if that kind of series was extended year round.

  • For the past year, I’ve been telling people that we HAVE to screen Beyonce’s Lemonade at the Lightbox, and I feel like if I keep mentioning it someone will work their magic and make that happen.

  • I also hope we can host discussions on the general accessibility of film. Whether that’s about captioning, ticketing, or representation of various physical and mental disabilities in film I think it’s a necessary conversation.

  • #Random but I just want to watch Rent or Coming to America on the big screen.

Originally Published March 2, 2017

Kyrell Grant is a Toronto-based freelance writer. 

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Kyrell Grant is a Toronto-based freelance writer.