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Oscars: ‘Tanna’ Marks First Foreign Language Nomination For Australia

The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film is one of the Academy Awards handed out annually by the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Nominees for this year 2017 include, Land of Mine, directed by Martin Pieter Zandvliet, Tanna, directed by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler. Toni Erdmann, directed by Maren Ade, A Man Called Ove, directed by Hannes Holm, The Salesman, directed by Asghar Farhadi.

Tanna, the film from directors Martin Butler and Bentley Dean is the first to score a nomination for Australia which has submitted 10 titles since 1996.

The movie also is the first feature from the directors and the first shot in the nation of Vanuatu. It stars non-actors who had never even watched a film, and it was shot with no electricity — everything was solar-powered, including the editing bay.

Set on the titular volcanic South Pacific island, Tanna is a story of star-crossed lovers that’s been compared to Romeo and Juliet. Wawa, being readied for the ceremony that will recognize her as a grown woman, is in love with the handsome grandson of the tribal chief. When, as part of an effort to prevent a war, Wawa is betrothed to a man from another tribe, she must choose between loyalty to her clan and her own heart. Dean and Butler spent several months in the city of Yakel crafting the screenplay with Master and Commander and Happy Feet scribe John Collee.

The film played Venice two years ago, picking up prizes in Critics’ Week, and was released in North America by Lightyear Entertainment in September, grossing nearly $6,000.