Bijlmerbajes Bios x IFFR: Tanna

Since March of this year, a team of five former refugees from Syria and Iran has been programming a monthly film evening for the refugees housed in the former prison Bijlmerbajes, and for the local residents. The team programmes each edition with EYE, IDFA, IFFR and the Fantastisch Kinderfilmfestival in turn. This second IFFR edition of the Bijlmerbajes Bios cinema event features Tanna, a special film that was very well received when it screened at IFFR 2016.


Tannaa beautifully filmed Romeo and Juliet story, is the first feature film by documentary makers Bentley Dean en Martin Butler. They spent seven months among one of the tribes on Tanna that actively upholds the traditional way of life. Together with them they developed the scenario, which is based on an event that took place in 1987 and includes an unexpected role for the British royal family.

On an island in the Pacific, two young lovers rebel against old customs, causing tensions to rise high. When Wawa and Dain, grandson of the chief, fall in love, they go against traditional values. Will they choose love or stay loyal to the tribe? A beautiful drama about the necessity of change and a desire to break the chain of violence. 

Filmmaker Martin Butler attended IFFR 2016 and tells about the time he spent filming at Tanna in this One-on-One:

The programme team of Bijlmerbajes Bios selected Tanna because of its universal love story that people from all backgrounds can relate to. "The fact that all actors are local and non-proffessionals make this film extra charming, and realistic", the programmers say.

Bijlmerbajes Bios

Since the summer of 2016, part of Amsterdam’s former Bijlmerbajes prison has been converted into housing for refugees, with some 600 refugees currently living there. The Bijlmerbajes Bios cinema event takes place every month, either indoors or – this month for example – outdoors in the ‘Lola Lik’ cultural hub. Solar World Cinema, the initiator of the project, is providing the facilities for these outdoor screenings with its mobile cinema. In the context of IFFR Travelling Cinema, IFFR joins Bijlmerbajes Bios every two months.