Tanna (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

Tanna (2016)

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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. Tanna is a spectacularly lush and exotic film that is Australia's submission for the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film of 2017. 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.

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Cast

Charlie Kahla
as Chief Charlie
Albi Nangia
as Grandfather and Shaman
Dadwa Mungau
as Grandmother
Kapan Cook
as Kapan Cook
Chief Mungau Yokay
as Peacemaking Chief
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Critic Reviews for Tanna

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (9)

The film uses its 100 minutes smartly. Emotional notes are hit neatly and refreshingly.

June 2, 2017 | Full Review…

Aussie co-directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean prize authenticity over conventional drama.

June 1, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The scenery throughout is elemental in force: sparking lava, lapping waves, volcanic dust and gnarled kava roots create an almost mythical atmosphere.

February 9, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

The performances here, from complete nonprofessionals, make you wonder whether acting is as much a natural inheritance as a trained craft.

October 14, 2016 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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.

September 29, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

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.

September 22, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tanna

½

It is like Romeo and Juliet (though based on actual events) set against the volcanic landscapes of a South Pacific island, offering us a peek into a patriarchal society based on arranged marriages that forced women to abide by the decisions that were made for them.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

Tanna is an extremely interesting piece of filmmaking. Based on a true story, the actual people who have experienced things exactly like this, were hired to portray characters in the film. There are moments when it seems as though they are trying very hard to keep a straight face (especially the children), but it also added much more emotion to the overall story. That being said, this is a very slow and uninteresting story, which hurts the film bit time. It's very rare that an entire cast has never acted, prior to the release of their film, which would also receive Oscar recognition. There are so many things about this film that should have been a red light for the studio, but it really is a touching little story. Here is why Tanna may deserve your attention, but you probably won't remember it for very long. When you base a film around a true story, the characters are already on the table for you. In this case literally, as these actors have experienced this first-hand. When this film concluded, I found myself forgetting about most of the story and would have completely forgotten after a day or two had passed, but these characters are what kept me interested throughout the majority of the film. Told through long conversations, sweeping visuals of volcanoes, and some hard to watch realistic events, Tanna definitely leaves an impact on you, especially due to the fact that some characters end up in places you wouldn't quite expect. When it comes to a low-budget, the perfect example doesn't usually come around as often as this. Filmed entirely on-location in Tanna, using natural light and hardly any film equipment, this was a very, very small production. Due to the nature of the story, which follows a young woman, who's loyalty is no longer with her family, but with another man, against her arranged marriage, which also sparks a feud between tribes, the dull-look when it's only about two characters conversing was perfect. When the film wishes to display extravagant visuals, don't worry, because there are some beautiful imagery sprinkled throughout as well. Where the film becomes much less interesting, was when the tribes began to sniff out certain occurrences throughout the rainforest. I found myself quite bored if I'm being honest, due to the fact that there was an excess of communication between feuding families. I was rooting for the romance throughout this film, but the balance between certain elements was off in my opinion. By the second act of this film, anytime the main characters were not on screen, I found myself checking my watch, which is a rarity for me. Although I was bored throughout the majority of this film, under the circumstances, this is still a very well-made picture. In the end, I'm very happy that this film is receiving awards-praise and critical acclaim around the festivals, because I'm sure this was a hard film to accomplish, given that these were not very experienced actors and the film crew was very minimum. Tanna is well-deserving of its praise, but only due to the way the film was made and how it displayed its characters. There are some emotional moments throughout this film, but nothing that really left much of an impact. I can't see myself remembering this film in years to come and for that reason alone, I find it hard to recommend. I won't deny that it's a well-made picture, so I will call it a solid film.

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

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