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Tanna (2015)

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Set on a remote Pacific island, covered in rain forest and dominated by an active volcano, this heartfelt story, enacted by the Yakel tribe, tells of a sister's loyalty, a forbidden love affair and the pact between the old ways and the new.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 8 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mungau Dain ... Dain
Marie Wawa ... Wawa
Marceline Rofit ... Selin
Charlie Kahla ... Chief Charlie
Albi Nangia Albi Nangia ... Grandfather and Shaman
Lingai Kowia ... Father
Dadwa Mungau Dadwa Mungau ... Grandmother
Linette Yowayin Linette Yowayin ... Mother
Kapan Cook Kapan Cook ... Kapan Cook
Mungau Yokay Mungau Yokay ... Peacemaking Chief
Mikum Tainakou ... Imedin Chief
Charlie Kahla Junior Charlie Kahla Junior ... Yakel Tribe
Nakou Pia Nakou Pia ... Yakel Tribe
Chifan Benata Chifan Benata ... Yakel Tribe
George Nayun George Nayun ... Yakel Tribe


Set on a remote Pacific island, covered in rain forest and dominated by an active volcano, this heartfelt story, enacted by the Yakel tribe, tells of a sister's loyalty, a forbidden love affair and the pact between the old ways and the new.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Two tribes. One love.


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 March 2016 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Taboo See more »

Filming Locations:

Tanna, Vanuatu See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,711, 16 September 2016

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Contact Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (5.1)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The first ever Australian-made film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. See more »


Wawa: I've missed you. You've been away too long.
Dain: You're all grown up now. A beautiful butterfly.
See more »


Featured in The Oscars (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

Romeo-Juliet of Tanna island tribe.
14 February 2017 | by Reno-RanganSee all my reviews

The film is this year's version of 'Embrace of the Serpent' at the Oscars. Yes, it is one of the five films to clash for the tag of the Best Foreign Language Film on the behalf of the Australia. Though the entire film was shot on Vanuatu's Tanna island and Nauvahal was the language spoken in it with the natives performing the film roles.

This was really a stunning film. I had a misconception during my childhood that all tribal people, mostly from the deep jungles are so cruel just like the North Sentinel Island people. I never visited such place or met such people, but some documentaries and feature films taught me many things. This is one of those films to highlight them and their culture.

The people from the Tanna island rejected to adopt the outside culture just to save theirs, which is used to be thousands of years old. Everything was taught to their kids, from hunting and gathering to the growing fruits, vegetables and livestocks. But they too have rivals with their neighbour tribe that sometimes end with casualties on the both sides. This film was a romance-drama, when the young couple's love was rejected by their elders, how they fought for it, which forced to bring a reform in their custom was told.

This is like the Vanuatu's version of Romeo-Juliet tale. While watching it, my heart was pounding faster. Because since I don't know these people and their traditions, I thought something terrible going to happen sooner or later. The film did not have any strong violence, but the storyline led to such situation often. Even in the final stage, they silently ended the narration with a message. But remember this film was based on the true story that took place in the 80s.

"Our tribes are the last keepers of Kastom. We have to hold it tight to survive."

Their performances were natural, since the events of the film were based on their daily life. So they knew what they were doing. It was an advantage for the filmmakers, like they were making a documentary, despite they wrote the screenplay for it. Everyone played their own real life character to depict the actual event. Particularly the lead ones, Dain, Wawa, Selin and a few others were impressive. Awesome cinematography, as well as background score. The locations were amazing, including that live volcanic mountain. Despite their presence in the region for centuries, it looks untouched and wild.

This film is what something you won't see in your daily life. It was not a romance like in our society, but men and women falling in love in any culture/society are the same. The film was not entirely a love tale, but step by step it gets there. In the initial parts, it was an introduction to their customs with a little fun. Followed by revealing they are not alone. Then comes the turn in the story where the remaining parts have a new fast paced thrill look.

My point is we have seen hundreds of romance films, but this is one of those rare ones where 90 per cent of the world never going to meet these real people in their lives. So thanks to the filmmakers for giving this beautiful precious film. The first feature film for the documentary filmmakers and it made into the American Academy Awards. A great achievement, especially recognising such film by the Australian film society, as well as the Academy juries for nominating it.

I'll be looking forward and cheering for them on their red carpet appearance. Though this film has a less chance over Denmark's 'Under Sandet' which is the front-runner. Don't mind that, just watch this film, because it is worth on its own merit than watching it after winning an award. Recommended!


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