Tanna puts West Footscray director on verge of Oscars history

Bentley Dean with the cast of Tanna at Yarraville's Sun Theatre. Photo by Benjamin Millar

A film co-created by West Footscray director Bentley Dean is on the verge of making Oscars history after being shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Awards.

Tanna, starring people of the Yakel tribe and the first ever feature film made in Vanuatu, is one of five films shortlisted for the best foreign language film award.

The multi-award-winning love story is based on a traditional song from the island of Tanna about two lovers from warring tribes who dare to defy ancient laws of arranged marriage.

Tanna has collected a swag of international awards, including best film (audience award) and cinematographer at the Venice International Film Festival and a jury commendation at the London Film Festival.

It is the first time an Australian film has received a nomination in the Oscars best foreign language film category.

Screen Australia chief executive Graeme Mason said it was extraordinary for an English-speaking country to make a film worthy of a foreign language film nomination.

“We could not be more proud of Tanna’s Australian creative team, and of course the people of Tanna, Vanuatu, who shared this Oscar-worthy tale,” he said

Australian films have been nominated for a record-breaking 13 Academy Awards this year, including best motion picture nominations for both

Lion and Hacksaw Ridge.

Both films have swept the awards categories with six nominations each.

Tanna is screening at ACMI in Federation Square until February 11.

The 89th Academy Awards ceremony will be held in Hollywood on Sunday, February 26.