Australia’s bid for foreign film is Tanna and is a love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet. It takes place among the Yakel tribe of Tanna, an island of Vanuatu. It is a true story of a couple who decided to disobey their tribe elders and marry for love and not the prearranged marriage to secure unity and peace.
It is a beautifully shot film that immerses you in the culture of the Yakel people. The cinematography is simply stunning. It had the feel of a documentary as it depicts everyday life of the tribe and the love story with equal amounts of reverence. This is no coincidence as co-directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler have directed documentaries before.
Besides the just beautiful location of Tanna and the amazing cinematography that comes from such a beautiful location, I also want to highlight how well this cast of non-actors do the story justice.
The cast is the local tribes people who largely plays versions of themselves. They do a splendid job of drawing the viewers into the world of the tribe as well as the individual people. The story was also developed in cooperation with the Yakel people, which might account for the ease they have with the cameras and telling the story. Our two leads, Marie Wawa and Mungau Dain, are especially remarkable.
This plays like a love letter to the tribe and their community, to love and the idea of love matches. Even if the couple dies in the movie, the idea of marrying for love carries on and is allowed in the tribe from then on. And as mentioned before this really is a stunning movie to look at both in terms of cinematography but also the story that unfolds.