Its hard out here for Island lovers.
It's hard out here for Island lovers.

Tanna, the first feature film shot in Vanuatu, a South Pacific Ocean nation composed of 83 or so islands (and a very popular tax haven), tells a timeworn story of two lovers divided by other people's meddling. Protagonist Wawa is set to be gifted to a neighboring tribe, but is in love with someone else already, a cool man named Dain. Rather than succumb to expectations, Wawa and Dain unsettle their community by choosing to pursue their romance, even when it jeopardizes inter-tribal relations. The love story plays out with subtlety (quick glances in each other's directions, smiles caught by onlookers) and nuance. Vanuatu itself is a gorgeous backdrop, providing the drama room to unfold in front of forests in one scene, foamy waves in another, and bubbling volcanoes the next. What makes Tanna feel particularly genuine is the pacing of its scenes. The urgency propelling the story isn’t a result of Wawa and Dain’s being shuffled from one obstacle to another. Instead, change is indicated in shifts of mood, the behavior of people around them, the attitudes of their tribe and family members, the story’s score as the sounds of nature turn to white noise.

Tanna screens at the SIFF Film Center.