Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Australia/Vanuatu, 2015. Contact Films. Screenplay by Martin Butler, John Collee, Bentley Dean. Cinematography by Bentley Dean. Produced by Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, Carolyn Johnson. Music by Antony Partos. Film Editing by Tania Nehme. Academy Awards 2016.
Members of the Yakel tribe of Vanuatu perform the story of this film entirely in the Nauvhal language, the story set on the lush Pacific island upon which they live with little influence from the outside modern world (even though it’s actually set in 1987). Two tribes that are constantly at war decide, after one particularly devastating murder, that the past must be put behind them and a new alliance forged. The decision is to have a woman of one group marry a man from the other, but Wawa has plans of her own, having fallen in love with her chief’s grandson Dain despite the fact that their tribe only allows for arranged marriages and does not believe in love matches. The couple accepts exile over compromise and leaves home, wandering into the forest and encountering touches of the modern world (including some hilariously wacky Christians) before forcing themselves to decide if their desires really are what is better for their people. Despite how familiar the plot sounds, the evocative location is beautifully filmed (you never felt more romantic about a volcano in your life), while the performances are all delivered with skilled sincerity that holds your attention until the end.