High Fantasy

Saturday, April 14, 2018 - 19:00
VIFF Vancity Theatre
1181 Seymour St.
$10 adult; $7 child, youth, senior; $5 each for groups of 10 or more
Jenna Bass
South Africa


Though apartheid formally ended in 1991, the weight of South Africa’s colonial roots persist today. Lexi and a group of new friends embark on a road trip to her grandfather’s farm. On the way it’s revealed that generations ago Lexi’s white family stole swaths of land from black South Africans. Tensions escalate as they explore the outcomes of the country’s racist past. After an uncomfortable night in the tent, they awake to learn that they’ve mysteriously switched bodies and are now confronted with another person’s lived reality. Literally and figuratively inhabiting the discomfort of the unfamiliar, each person learns more than they expect about the other’s experience.

High Fantasy's biting satire is anchored in a stark realism which hits close to home. A little known fact about apartheid is that its architects used elements of Canada’s Indian Act and Indian reserves as a model to develop and implement segregation. Jenna Bass’ political sci-fi suspense-comedy, does the tough work of wading through history’s challenges, building up to a complex and provoking head. Using interview style flashforwards, each subject reflects on their eye opening day spent in someone else’s shoes. Although shot entire on iphones (mostly by the cast), the production values here are exceptional. Bass’ inspired second feature illuminates the quagmire of a country which reverentially refers to itself as the “Rainbow Nation.”

Themes: racism, identity, reparations, sexism, gender, intersectionality

Advisory: Swearing; a sexually suggestive scene; a few instances of shoving; marijuana smoking; frank discussions about sex, gender, and identity.

Classification: 14A

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Jenna Bass is a South African writer, filmmaker and former magician. Her multi-award winning films - Zimbabwe-set short, The Tunnel, and entirely-improvised debut feature, Love The One You Love - have screened at festivals around the world, including Sundance, Berlinale, Göteborg, Busan and Durban International Film Festivals. She has been heralded as ushering in a ‘New Wave’ of South African cinema. Her second feature film, High Fantasy, shot entirely on the iPhone 7, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, and recently had its European premerie at Berlinale's Generation 14 program. Her third feature, Flatland, a feminist Western set in South Africa's Karoo region, is scheduled for production in mid-2018. Bass is also the editor and co-creator of Jungle Jim, the illustrated pulp-literary magazine for African fiction, established in 2011. In 2012, under her pseudonym, Constance Myburgh, she was shortlisted for the Caine Prize, Africa’s leading literary award. Bass is also a lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in both Production Design and Screenwriting. She is currently engaged in a VR collaboration with artist, Olivie Keck and indie game developers, Free Lives, as well as co-writing a fantasy animation feature screenplay for Sanusi Chronicles.