Tanna, the Vanuata-set story of forbidden love was made by Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, who recently made Liz Jackson’s Parkinson’s story for Four Corners, A Sense Of Self.
Martin Butler and Bentley Dean are the latest Australians to find themselves in Oscar contention. Their Vanuatu set feature, Tanna, was today named on the shortlist of nine films for the Best Foreign Language Feature fro the 2017 Academy Awards.
The pair, best known as documentary makers, lived with the Yakel people on the remote island of Tanna, part of Vanuatu, for seven months and made the Romeo and Juliet style drama of forbidden love, shooting it totally in the islanders native Nauvhal language.
Tanna centres on a young girl, Wawa, who falls in love with her chief’s grandson, Dain. When an inter-tribal 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.
The film co-written by Butler, Dean, John Collee and the people of Yakel, is going up against favourites Germany’s Toni Erdmann, Xavier Dolan’s Its Only The End Of The World (Canada) and Iran’s The Salesman, from Ashgar Farhadi, amongst others.
2016 has been a significant year for Butler and Dean, during which they made the highly lauded Four Corners film, A Sense Of Self, which aired last month. A Sense of Self was the unflinchingly honest account of Butler’s partner, award winning ABC journalist Liz Jackson and her brutal battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Nominations for the 89th Oscars will be announced on Jan. 24. The ceremony will be held on Feb. 26 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood (and broadcast in Australia on Feb 27).
Tanna is currently available on iTunes, Google Play, Quickflix and Fetch TV.