Pa­cific is­land mourns Dain

Ac­tor’s sud­den death comes af­ter un­likely sud­den film fame

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ENTERTAINMENT - NICK PERRY

WELLINGTON, new Zealand — mun­gau dain had never con­sid­ered act­ing be­fore he starred in the os­car-nom­i­nated film tanna. He got the role be­cause his el­ders de­cided he was the best-look­ing guy in their tra­di­tional vil­lage on the Pa­cific is­land na­tion of van­u­atu.

they would later de­scribe him as their an­swer to Brad Pitt.

dain died Sat­ur­day in the cap­i­tal Port vila, af­ter con­tract­ing a leg in­fec­tion that wasn’t quickly treated. He was 24.

martin But­ler, who co-di­rected tanna, said dain wasn’t a nat­u­ral ac­tor but was very en­thu­si­as­tic, learned quickly, and ended up giv­ing a fab­u­lous per­for­mance.

the movie won a num­ber of awards, in­clud­ing two at the venice Film Fes­ti­val. it was nom­i­nated in 2016 for the os­car for for­eign lan­guage film.

it lost to the ira­nian film the Sales­man.

dain is sur­vived by his wife, nancy, and two chil­dren. His vil­lage, yakel, on tanna is­land, remains in a tra­di­tional two-week mourn­ing pe­riod.

Jimmy Joseph, the cul­tural di­rec­tor for tanna is­land, said dain was quiet, hum­ble and re­spected in yakel, where he had cho­sen to re­main liv­ing even af­ter achiev­ing some fame in the movie. He said dain never drank or smoke.

Peo­ple in the vil­lage typ­i­cally chose to live as they have for cen­turies, in sim­ple thatch huts and wear­ing noth­ing but grass skirts or a pe­nis shield called a nam­bas. they raise crops and pigs, and ob­serve a tra­di­tional way of life known as kas­tom.

But the vil­lage isn’t com­pletely iso­lated from mod­ern life. When vil­lagers make the trek to the is­land’s main town to sell the cof­fee beans they’ve grown or buy rice, they usu­ally wear clothes. Some have cell­phones, which they charge with small so­lar pan­els.

Whenaus­tralia-basedBut­lerand Bent­ley dean de­cided to make the movie, which is loosely based on a true story, But­ler said they quickly re­al­ized the vil­lage el­ders would be do­ing the cast­ing. He said dain looked too old for the role with his full beard, but 10 min­utes later he’d shaved it off at their re­quest.

He said he fondly re­mem­bers how awk­ward dain was when try­ing to act in a scene in which he was sup­posed to lift co-star marie Wawa in his arms and carry her along a river bed.

But­ler said he and dean plan to travel to yakel at the end of the mourn­ing pe­riod to join the vil­lage in cel­e­brat­ing dain’s life.

“i was to­tally dev­as­tated. He was so fit and young and gor­geous. His wife is fab­u­lous and the kids are great,” But­ler said. “He was a great ex­am­ple of how you can live a to­tally dif­fer­ent type of life, and still be com­pletely happy.”

lo­ca­tion pro­ducer Janita Suter, who lived in yakel for seven months dur­ing film­ing with her hus­band dean and their chil­dren, said if there was an award for most im­proved ac­tor, it would have to go to dain. She said she doesn’t think he’d even seen a movie be­fore act­ing in one.

She said that when they trav­elled to venice for the film fes­ti­val, she was in her apart­ment when the chan­de­lier and ceil­ing started shak­ing. it turned out it was dain and the other vil­lagers in the room above, stomp­ing their feet in a tra­di­tional dance.

“He was a re­ally proud am­bas­sador for his peo­ple,” she said. “it’s a real loss.”

She said dain had been stay­ing in Port vila for the past cou­ple of months as he tried to get a tem­po­rary visa to move to aus­tralia and earn some money pick­ing fruit. She said a doc­tor had ex­plained that dain had got an in­fec­tion in his leg that he didn’t treat and by the time he was taken to the hos­pi­tal he was un­con­scious and likely in sep­tic shock.

But­ler said he hoped there may be some way to get bet­ter in­for­ma­tion to peo­ple in van­u­atu about the risks of in­fec­tions, and that dain’s death could act as a cat­a­lyst.

The as­so­ci­aTed PRess FiLes

Jimmy Jospeh Nako and Mun­gau Dain, right, pose for a por­trait at the Venice Film Fes­ti­val in Venice, Italy, on Sept. 9, 2015. Dain, who starred in the film Tanna, died sud­denly of an in­fec­tion. He was 24.

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