by Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Set in one of Vanuatu’s remote parts, the 104-minute film has an absolute and pure quality.
Tanna was directed and produced by Australian film makers, Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, and has now been endorsed as Australia’s official entry for best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.
The Nauvhal language film was picked by Screen Australia, and will contend with other entrants worldwide to be shortlisted for nomination.
CEO of Screen Australia, Graeme Mason, said “Tanna does what all great films aspire to do: transport you out of your seat and keep you completely riveted as you dive into another world.
“It’s a simple and universal story told with such impressive nuance and looks extraordinary on screen. It’s a great privilege to submit Tanna to the Academy on behalf of Australia, the filmmakers and the people of Yakel.”
Co-directors, Dean and Butler, expressed their excitement about the news, saying they and the Tanna cast are absolutely thrilled.
“Working so closely with the people of Yakel has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our creative lives. Together we have opened a rare window into a rapidly vanishing world full of hope and dynamism. We are so proud to bring their story to the world.”
Tanna was shot entirely in Vanuatu and the whole cast are the Yakel people themselves – none of them have had any training, whatsoever. The Romeo and Juliet epic is based on a true story in 1984 that prompted changes in custom on arranged marriage.
The exceptional film has already won prestigious international awards: Best Film and Best Cinematographer at the Venice International Film Festival, Best Direction Feature Film at the Australian Directors Guild Awards, and Best Director at Japan’s SKIP City International D-Cinema Festival, among others.