Lightyear Entertainment has acquired all U.S. distribution rights to "Tanna," an Australian/Vanuatu co-production set and filmed in one of the world’s last tribal societies. The "Romeo and Juliet"–inspired story is directed by Australian filmmakers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler. Lightyear is planning to give a full theatrical release in May.
"Tanna" is the first production to ever be shot entirely in the little known South Pacific country of Vanuatu, specifically in a small village called Yakel. The individuals of the isolated community have continued to reject modern influences, both Christian and colonial, to preserve their tradition and “Kaston” system of laws and beliefs. They wear grass skirts and sheaths, living high in the mountains next to a volcano. Not very much about their lifestyles and practices have changed for centuries, and they hold their roots very close to their hearts.
The film, based on a true story and featuring the people of Vanuatu, is about a pair of lovers who will forever change the landscape of their tribe’s culture, breaking the traditions they have followed closely for ages. As Wawa prepares for the ceremony that will acknowledge her as a grown woman, she finds herself smitten with the tribal chief’s grandson. However, as she is betrothed to someone else from another tribe in an attempt to prevent war from bursting, Wawa ultimately has to choose between home and love.
"’Tanna"" is without question the finest movie we’ve been associated with in many years," said Arnie Holland, Chief Executive Officer at Lightyear, in an official statement. "It is quite unlike anything seen before. It’s spectacularly lush and exotic, filled with unique characters and a timeless story, yet it also is very contemporary and of the moment. We are very excited to be a part of ‘Tanna’ and what is bound to be a successful and culturally-significant sensation."
The film premiered last fall at the Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award in the International Critics Week sidebar.