The exotic forbidden love story of two star-crossed lovers, Tanna, is set to invade theaters across the country next month. Its release instantly thrusts itself into the Foreign-Language Oscar race.
Tanna examines the fallout after a young woman runs away with the man she loves to avoid an arranged marriage. Villagers wrestle with preserving their traditional culture or adapting it to the increasing outside demands for individual freedom. The film beautifully depicts the true story of how two of the last remaining indigenous tribes in the Republic incorporate love into their ancient tradition of arranged marriage.
Co-directed by Australian filmmakers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, both making their narrative feature debut, Tanna has been selected by Australia as the country’s official entry for the 89th Annual Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race.
The first feature film shot entirely on the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, most of the cast played their own roles in the film. “The chief played the chief, the medicine man played the medicine man, the warriors played the warriors,” stated the film’s cultural director, Jimmy Joseph Nako.
Mungau Dain was cast as the lead because he was considered the village’s most handsome man and Dean used the native Navhal and Nafe languages for the cast. Many of the cast members did not regard the filming as being difficult because their roles were “performing what we were used to in our daily life.”
This Romeo & Juliet-esque tale made its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, last year winning the Audience Award and Best Cinematography top prizes.
Lightyear Entertainment purchased distribution rights for the film and will premiere the film in New York on September 16. The film will slowly rollout, initially in Los Angeles and to select markets later in the year.
Check out the trailer and poster for the film, below: