Saturday, August 13, 2016


Our last film of the 2016 film festival, Tanna was one of the best. It's a Romeo and Juliet style love story filmed on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Tanna is famous for its live volcano, Mount Yasur, and for still having some villages where the traditional lifestyle is practised. The inhabitants are self-sufficient, live in huts and  women still wear grass skirts and the men just penis sheaths.

In the village of Yakel, our Juliet is an attractive teenager named Wawa. Dain is our Romeo. Their romance is mostly in secret, although it doesn't escape the notice of Wawa's little sister Selin  Wawa is just coming of age, and is expected to marry someone of her parent's choosing, although she maintains she wats to marry someone she loves. The villagers have a long-running feud with a neighbouring tribe,the Imedin. Dain's parents were killed by Imedin many years before. In the film, Dain's grandfather (the vlllage shaman) is attacked by the Imedin because they think he made their crops fail. Dain itches for for revenge.

Since inter-tribal relations are at an all-time low and killing and violence are making everyone's life difficult, a council meeting is scheduled  Pigs are exchanged and dialogue takes place. Imagine Dain's dismay when Wawa is offered as a bride to the Imedin and they accept. The Imedin leave the meeting, to return tomorrow to collect the bride.

Unable to contemplate a separate future, Dain and Wawa escape overnight. Like Romeo and Juliet, they enjoy a brief period together while they are pursued both by Wawa's family (who eventually catch up with them) and the Imedin,. Seemingly persuaded to comply with the tribes' wishes they commit mutual suicide by eating poisonous mushrooms while camped out on Mount Yasur,

Despite the tragic ending, this film is so worth watching A convincing romance is always heart-warming and Wawa and Dain's enthusiasm for each other's company is endearing. A glimpse into a lifestyle completely different to our own is fascinating - it seems a very physical existence and the characters raced through the forest and up the volcano at the  drop of a hat, seemingly without raising a sweat. The children were a  particular pleasure to watch as they  played games in the forest and in the waterhole and they seemed happy, carefree and cute.

Selin is a delight and her parents struggle to get her to do what she's told, The scenery is lovely and was nostalgic for us since we've been to Tanna, climbed Mount Yasur and been to a kastom village. Take a break from your life and experience what it's like to be on Tanna - we recommend it.

Anne's rating 4.5/5 Ian's rating 3.5/5

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