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Tanna (Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, 2015) wr. Martin Butler, John Collee, Bentley Dean, dp Bentley Dean, music Antony Partos; Mungau Dain, Marie Wawa; the Yakel tribe; forbidden relationship; nominated for Best Foreign Language Film 2017 Oscars; first feature from Vanuatu

Tanna is the name of the island where the film is both set and shot. The word probably means 'earth' - 'this is where we live, this place' - as does the word 'vanua' in the Pacific.

Richard Kuipers:
Part of the film’s success can be attributed to events that took place long before cameras rolled. Dean and Butler spent seven months living with the Yakel, a tribe whose customs and lifestyle have changed little for centuries. During this time the filmmakers were told of a great love story from the recent past. The result was a screenplay written in close collaboration with the Yakel and performed predominantly by its members. In this and several other respects Tanna shares similarities with Rolf de Heer’s Ten Canoes, which was made in a comparable spirit of cooperation with members of the Ramingining Aboriginal community in Australia. Richard Kuipers, Variety.

Luke Buckmaster:
Performances from the (untrained) cast are magnetic; if it was a challenge for them to learn how to act in front of a camera, they certainly don’t show it. And while in a narrative sense this ground has been walked many times before, the Yakel people’s passion to tell this story is undoubtedly at the heart of the film’s success. Tanna has a warm, shimmering vitality. Like the trees and the birds, the frame feels alive. Luke Buckmaster, Guardian.

Louise Keller:
Bentley Dean's cinematography is breathtaking - the saturation of the colours is extraordinary. The film is worth seeing for the visuals alone. The haunting sounds of Lisa Gerrard's distinctive vocalizing is the intoxicating thread with which the narrative holds together - along with Antony Partos' rich score. Louise Keller, urbancinefile.

There is a sing-sing in this film, which relates it to another feature, Walk into Paradise, (set in Papua New Guinea), which, in turn, because it deals with early contact in the PNG highlands, relates to the Bob Connolly/Robin Anderson documentary trilogy about the Leahys, First Contact, Joe Leahy's Neighbours, and Black Harvest (1982, 1988, 1992).

References and Links

Wikipedia page for the film.

Contact (2009) - another Butler/Dean film, as is First Footprints.

Garry Gillard | New: 28 October, 2016 | Now: 23 February, 2021