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‘Tanna’ puts Vanuatu back on the map

Tanna cream magazine @2x

There is an arty movie you are sure to be hearing a lot about in the next couple of weeks.

Tanna is a feature film shot in Vanuatu by Australian filmmakers Bentley Dean and Martin Butler and is the first Australian film to be nominated for the category of Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

The Romeo and Juliet-style story was shot completely in Tanna, one of the 80-plus islands that make up beautiful Vanuatu, and is based on a true story amid the surrounds of active volcanoes and busily interactive village folk.

Reports Vanity Fair, “the South Pacific is finally being depicted onscreen in an honest way” with Tanna joining Disney’s Moana and Werner Herzog’s 2016 documentary Into The Inferno in introducing film-goers to the real environment and genuine people of the region.

Having been to Vanuatu, I can say this island nation is one of the most beautiful parts of our planet, surrounded by pristine waters and offering a rich history lesson and some of the best natural sightseeing for visitors.

Filmmaker Bentley Dean has been generous enough to share his five favourite places to visit on Tanna.  Antonino Tati


Photography by Matthew Vandeputte.

Photography by Matthew Vandeputte.

01. Yakel Village
“This is where the movie Tanna is mostly set and where most of the cast live. The crew lived in main character Lingai’s house for seven months, exchanging stories, eating together and making a movie. It’s one of my favourite places on earth. The Chiefs say that people are welcome to visit, so do so.”


Photography by Matt Donovan.

Photography by Matt Donovan.

02. Yasur (or Yahul) Volcano
“Every time we filmed at the volcano, the Spirit Mother, Yahul was a memorable moment for me. There was no need for CGI (computer generated imagery) – every eruption was very real and at times very scary. Tanna’s young star Selin had never seen Yahul before making this film. It felt special to capture her awe and nascent understanding as she met and got to know Yahul for the very first time. It was a feeling that I shared over dozens of visits. Yahul has many moods. It was impossible to be in the presence of Yahul and not feel our planet is alive.”


03. Blackman Town
“Blackman Town has got it all. There is a wonderful market full of the island’s produce and excellent fish restaurants by the water. Blackman Town also has wonderful kava bars – a great place to get to know people.”


04. Tanna Evergreen Resort and White Grass Ocean Resort
“Tanna Evergreen Resort and White Grass Ocean Resort are right next to each other. Every few months we would come down from Yakel for a night or two of hot showers and a bottle of wine… Luxury!”


05. Tanna Culture Centre
“The centre’s head, Jacob Kapere, was instrumental to the success of Tanna. He made introductions, gave advice and would come out on location at times. Sadly the centre was destroyed during Cyclone Pam, but may be on the way to being rebuilt. Ask around as it is a wonderful introduction to the island’s cultures.”


‘Tanna’ is currently in select independent cinemas across the country but, given the film’s popularity on the Oscar front, looks like getting a broader re-release soon.

For more information about the place itself, visit www.discovervanuatu.com.au.

Tanna cream magazine 02 @2x

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