New Indie Film ‘Tanna’ Tells a Black Love Story Set in the South Pacific
Philippe Penel

On a South Pacific island where some of its brown-skinned folks have dark blond fros, we meet the people of Yakel. They have rejected European colonization, foreign religions and capitalism. Instead they follow the wisdom of their elders and the earthly guidance of the “Spirit Mother” and exist in harmony. There is strong affection between Dain, the chief’s grandson, and Wawa, a smart and charming young woman. But when their hopes of being together are endangered due to a looming tribal war, the ill-fated lovers set off to live life on their terms.

Tanna, based on a true story of the Vanuatu people, is a bright and inviting feature directed by Australians Bentley Dean and Martin Butler. The movie, which opened the New York African Film Festival last May, will be released in New York City and Los Angeles on September 16 and 23, respectively. It offers a nicely crafted window into the world of an impressive people, rich in honor and wisdom, working out the future by staying present.

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