1st February 2017
In a first for Australian cinema, culturally immersive film Tanna has received an Oscar nomination for best Foreign-Language Film. Shot in Vanuatu, the film was directed by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler and features a cast of locals. The first time Australia has ever received a nomination in this category, the The Nauvhal-language film has been lauded for its unique insight into the daily life of the Yakel people which saw film crews immersed in daily village life for over 14 months.
Filmed on Tanna Island, the movie is an adaptation of the belief systems and common law of the local people and examines the 'kastom' of arranged marriage. With filming only allowed at the chief's discretion, the crew spent months living amongst the remote tribe and worked closely with the ni-Vanuatu people to ensure that the story was captured and told in an accurate and respectful way.
Based on a true story of forbidden love, Tanna tells the story of a young woman who falls deeply in love with the grandson of the village chief. As part of a peaceful deal, the woman is promised to a man in another tribe. Desperate to be together, the lovers elope only to be pursued by Imedin warriors. Conflict arises and the lovers must choose between the future of the tribe and following their hearts. Meanwhile, the villagers struggle with the idea of preserving their culture by adapting it.
Bentley Dean and Martin Butler are best known for their ABC projects on Aboriginal history including the documentary 'First Footprints' however Tanna is set to catapult them to further stardom, particularly if they end up taking out the Oscar. The winners will be announced at the 89th Academy Awards which will be held in Hollywood on Sunday 26 February.