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Film Series Heads to Pacific with ‘Tanna’

Tanna film still
Film still from 'Tanna'

Oklahoma City University’s annual international film series continues at 2 p.m. Oct. 22 with the 2017 Academy Award-nominated “Tanna.” The screening is free to the public in the Kerr McGee Auditorium in Meinders School of Business at N.W. 27th Street and McKinley Avenue.

On the Pacific island of Tanna, the Yakel tribe lives a simple life, one ruled by traditions passed down for generations. However, when two young sweethearts defy marital law à la Romeo and Juliet, the small community is placed on a precarious perch between respect of ancestry, fear of intertribal violence and love of family. Based on local history and performed by the Yakel people, the film transcends mere plot and transforms into an intimate cultural artifact, an uninflected portrait of a group as they see themselves.

Critic Phil Hoad calls the movie an “open-throated and universal call for change from within.”

Australian directors Martin Butler and Brantley Dean (“First Footprints”) are known for their respectful work in facilitating the stories of indigenous peoples. Endowed with a collaborative spirit uniquely its own, this Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film serves as a testament to the power of community storytelling in modern independent filmmaking, a groundbreaking tribute to tradition and modernity both. 

“Tanna” represents the first-ever Melanesian film in the OCU series.

Series director Tracy Floreani said she and her advisory committee wanted this year’s season to take on a positive theme in light of the many global crises and cultural divides occurring in recent times.

“All of these films deal with the idea of reconciliation in some way, whether people from warring factions trying to understand one another, or people treading the difficult terrain of forgiveness or acceptance.”

Other upcoming films in the series include:

  • Nov. 5, “Ma Vie en Rose” by Alain Berliner (France, 1997)
  • Jan. 21, “Bakashû” (Early Summer) by Yasujirô Ozu (Japan, 1951)

Admission to all film screenings is free to the public, but donations help to maintain the Film Institute’s mission.

A discussion session follows each film for those who wish to stay, and a list of theme-based recommended readings and podcasts will be available at each screening.

For more information visit okcufilmlit.org, call 405-208-5707 or email filmlit@okcu.edu.

The Film Institute is supported by the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund for the University’s Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature.