Tanna at Real Art Ways

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2017 Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.

Tanna is set in the South Pacific where Wawa, a young girl from one of the last traditional tribes, falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an intertribal war escalates, Wawa is unknowingly betrothed as part of a peace deal.

The young lovers run away, but are pursued by enemy warriors intent on killing them.

They must choose between their hearts and the future of the tribe, while the villagers must wrestle with preserving their traditional culture and adapting it to the increasing outside demands for individual freedom.

Tanna is based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel in Vanuatu.

Tanna, an extraordinary Australia/Vanuatu co-production, is a Romeo and Juliet story set in one of the world’s last true tribal societies. It is the first feature film shot entirely in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, in a village called Yakel.

The people of this remote community, high in the mountain rainforests near a spitting volcano, truly wear grass skirts and penis sheaths and have rejected colonial and Christian influences in favor of their traditional and pure “Kastom” system of laws and beliefs. Their customs and lifestyle have changed little for centuries.

Before Tanna, they had never before seen a movie or a camera, yet welcomed the filmmakers to live with the tribe for seven months where they absorbed stories and observed ceremonies, with the input and collaboration of the local people.

None of the ‘cast’ had ever acted before, but astonishingly, they passionately and naturally re-created this real-life story from recent tribal history as if they had had years of training.

The movie recently won the Directors Guild of Australia award for Best Director. Earlier, the movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival this past fall, where it won the Audience Award in the International Critics Week sidebar as well as the Best Cinematography prize.

Audience Award – Venice Critics’ Week
Best Cinematography – Venice Critics’ Week
Gold Medal, Bentley Dean – Australian Cinematographers Society Victoria Tasmania
Best Director – Skip City International D-Cinema Festival
Longscapes Competition Award – Lake Como Film Festival

"Dean and Butler breathe new life into their premise - based on real-life circumstances that plagued Tanna's tribes in the '80s - through loving attentiveness to their setting's verdant colors and bustling sounds."

Nick Schager, Village Voice

"You will be surprised at the effectiveness of the drama, of the convincing story of forbidden love between two young people and how it plays out in this kind of a closed culture."

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"The movie is a tremendous accomplishment, especially considering that the cast had never seen cameras before - much less movies - yet still agreed to star in the drama."

Stephanie Merry, Washington Post