Based on true events that took place on Tanna island in the 1980s, the film tells the story of young star-cross'd lovers Wawa and Dain, who flee their village to escape Wawa’s arranged betrothal to a man from a rival tribe. This Romeo and Juliet type folktale, however, is concerned instead with how new attitudes towards love and female experience are shifting the foundations of ancient customs.
Tanna’s most triumphant moments are without doubt the scenes between the two young lovers, played wonderfully by Marie Wawa and Mungau Dain, whose explosive on-screen chemistry capture the incandescent euphoria of first love.
Equally successful are the many quietly observed shots of the Yakel’s everyday lives, which benefit from the gorgeous tropical scenery they inhabit. Tanna's stunning landscape offer the feature a simmering mysticism: one stunning scene shows Wawa and Dain embracing atop an active volcano as hot lava flares up behind their impassioned silhouettes.
But although the warm and genuine performances of the Yakel tribe are a tremendous achievement that make Tanna stand out from the rest of the festival's line-up, the film lags in places with a runtime that would benefit from some trimming. Despite its faults, though, Tanna treats its indigenous subjects with tenderness, respect and a great deal of heart, making for a thoroughly watchable – if structurally imperfect – first feature.
|What||Tanna film review|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
16 Oct 15 – 16 Nov 15, times vary
|Price||£determined by cinema|
|Website||Click here to go to the film's IMDB page.|