Oscars: Australia Selects 'Tanna' for Foreign-Language Category 

Tanna Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Venice Film Festival

Lightyear Entertainment will release the film in the U.S. beginning Sept. 19.

Australia is submitting Tanna, a Nauvhal-language film shot by co-directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler on the island of Vanuatu, as its official entry for best foreign-language film consideration at the 2017 Academy Awards.

The submission was announced Monday by Screen Australia, an agency of the Australian government.

Lightyear Entertainment, the U.S. distributor, will open the film Sept. 19 at the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York, followed by openings in Los Angeles and San Francisco on Sept. 23. Lightyear will then release the film to home entertainment platforms in the spring through eOne/Sony.

Based on a true story, Tanna looks at the Tanna people in Vanuatu and tells the story of two young lovers who challenged the island’s customs. The cast comprises non-actors, drawn from people living in the village of Yakel. The story and dialogue were developed over the course of a six-month shoot through workshopping, improvisation on location and close consultation with J.J. Nako, a translator, cultural interpreter, guide and advisor.

Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia, said, Tanna does what all great films aspire to do: transport you out of your seat and keep you completely riveted as you dive into another world. It’s a simple and universal story told with such impressive nuance and looks extraordinary on screen. It’s a great privilege to submit Tanna to the Academy on behalf of Australia, the filmmakers and the people of Yakel.”

Tanna was named Best Film (Audience Award) at Venice Critics’ Week at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. Its other awards include Best Direction, Feature Film from the Australian Director’s Guild.