Berlinale: Programme

Film File

NATIVe - Indigenous Cinema


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Tanna, an island in the Republic of Vanuatu, is the setting for the clash between several different ways of life. While some have adopted the Christian religion and culture, others are committed to adhering to their ancestors’ ways. The Yakel and Imedin share similar customs and traditions but have remained at odds over possession of land and engaged in a conflict that has persisted for generations. Amidst preparations for her initiation ritual into womanhood, Wawa steals away with Dain, grandson of the Yakel chief. Knowing that their tradition prohibits endogamy, and that marriage between tribes is instead pursued to keep the peace, Dain and Wawa try to hide their relationship from everyone.
Based on real events that took place during the 1980s and shot entirely in the Nauvhal language, Tanna marks directing duo Bentley Dean and Martin Butler’s third and most recent feature film. The beautiful scenery of this volcanic island is captured for the big screen in stunningly poetic shots. The amateur cast evokes a compelling story about an impossible love caught up in inter-tribal conflict and persistent traditions. Tanna was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017.

Bentley Dean
Martin Butler

Australia 2015

Southwest Tanna

104’ · Colour


Mungau Dain (Dain)
Marie Wawa (Wawa)
Marceline Rofit (Selin)
Chief Charlie Kahla (Chief Charlie)
Albi Nangia (Grandfather, shaman)
Lingai Kowia (Father)
Dadwa Mungau (Grandmother)
Linette Yowayin (Mother)
Kapan Cook (Kapan Cook)
Chief Mungau Yokay (Peacemaker Chief)
Chief Mikum Tainakou (Imedin Chief)


Written and Directed by
Bentley Dean, Martin Butler
Co-Written by
John Collee
Bentley Dean
Tania Michel Nehme
Antony Partos
Bentley Dean, Martin Butler, Carolyn Johnson


Martin Butler

After studying politics and economics at Oxford University, he first worked for the manager of ‘The Who’ in Venice. In 1981, he moved to Australia and began producing award-winning documentaries and reports for ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ and ‘Foreign Correspondent’ and SBS’s ‘Dateline’. He teamed up with Bentley Dean to make the documentary Contact which they followed with the four-part docu-series First Footprints about the 50,000 year old history of the Aboriginal Australian people.


2010 Contact 2013 First Footprints 2015 Tanna

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Bentley Dean

In 1997, he was one of the eight candidates in the Race Around the World documentary series broadcast on ABC in Australia. He began as a freelance director and cinematographer before, in 2001, beginning work for the series ‘Dateline’ which was broadcast on the Australian television station SBS. His documentaries, including The President Versus David Hicks, The Siege and A Well-Founded Fear, have won numerous awards.


2004 The President Versus David Hicks 2007 The Siege 2015 Tanna

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Produced by

Contact Films

World Sales

Visit Films