Despite the physical distance between us, and his suffering from mental illness, I felt close to my dad growing up. But like many children, I lived through events that disrupt the ideal innocence of childhood. I was forced to grow up quickly and understand very adult matters at a very young age. It was later in my teenage years, when my father passed away from cancer, that I realized how much I had yearned for a normal childhood and a better father/daughter experience. Fantasy Land takes me on a journey in search of an early memory I have of him, a memory that existed from a time when my family might have had a “normal” experience; the only vacation we took together.
Looking for a piece of my childhood in a place of princesses and childlike fantasies aided in a catharsis, revealed through the film, that led to the acceptance of a less than ideal childhood and an appreciation for a much more meaningful and true “princess moment.”
In the film, I recall a photo of my father and I from this trip to Disney World. Like most people when they look back on photos of their early childhood, I have always been unsure of whether it is the actual event I recall or whether it is the photo that I remember. Initially, I sought out to recreate and remember precisely this memory of a moment shared with my father. Instead, what suffices is an imaginary memory I create for myself. I replace what I don’t remember with an image that I believe represents the time when I can define my father’s love for me. Unexpectedly, this image acted as a tool to move through what had unintentionally become a process of grief for the loss of my father, and the loss of my childhood innocence, resulting in a peaceful acceptance of the latter.