Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for Jenna Bass’s “Flatland,” which is the opening film of Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Sales are being handled by The Match Factory.
The South African film is a contemporary Western centering on a journey of self-discovery for three different but equally trapped women. “It paints a vivid and unique portrait of femininity against a hostile frontier land and questions what it means to be a woman today in South Africa and the world at large,” according to a statement by The Match Factory.
“Flatland” is the story of a lonely policewoman longing to reunite with her fugitive boyfriend, while simultaneously tasked with a murder investigation that has a newly-married former housekeeper and a heavily-pregnant teen as prime suspects. Helped and hindered along the way by an ensemble of wayward denizens, the unlikely trio soon become embroiled in a cross-country chase as they navigate the Karoo semi-desert in freezing winter, at times on horseback, all the while in search of a new life and fresh start.
In a statement, Bass said: “I realized that though I loved Westerns as much as my father did, I couldn’t identify with them. I knew Clint Eastwood would survive, but what about me? What would I do, shot at by enemies, alone? I wanted adventure for myself and for others who were ignored by these films. Women have just as much right to be in the saddle, and I was sure that women audiences had the same desires I had, as well as the spirit to act them out.”
She added: “For me, the starting point was three different women, on their own terms: A lovelorn policewoman, a pregnant teenager, and a naive young bride, all of whom are trapped, by circumstances, their environment and by their own misconceptions of what they must be.”
The film, which stars Faith Baloyi, Nicole Fortuin and Izel Bezuidenhout, is produced by Proper Film in South Africa, Deal Productions in Luxembourg, and IGC Films in Germany. It received funding from the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund.
Bass’s films include the 2010 short “The Tunnel,” and the features “Love the One You Love” in 2014 and “High Fantasy” in 2017, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Bass co-wrote with Wanuri Kahiu the coming-of-age romance “Rafiki,” which premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2018.