When Jenna Cato Bass, 29, decides to do something, she does it, despite rejections from major production companies and tiny budgets.
This persistence is not without reward – her first feature film Love the One You Love, with completely improvised dialogue, played to a packed theatre on its debut screening, with audience members even sitting in the aisles. It won three awards at the 2014 Durban International Film Festival: Best South African Feature Film, Best Direction in a South African Feature Film and a Best Actress award for her lead, Chi Mhende.
Tunnel, a short film set in Zimbabwe, premiered at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals. She is passionate about creating genre films and breaking the particular representations and expectations of South African movies.
Her creativity goes beyond film: in 2011 she cofounded Jungle Jim, a pulp-fiction magazine featuring genre-based writing from pan-African writers, including some award-winning authors.
One of her own pieces, Hunter Emannuelle, published under her pen name, Constance Myburgh, was shortlisted in 2012 for the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing. She is on fire, and her next project, a Western, set in the Karoo with an all-female cast, is one to look out for.
“The hardest lesson I have learned is being South African,” says Innovator, Jenna Cato Bass