(L-R) Director Martin Butler, Marie Wawa, Marceline Rofit, Lingai Kowia, director Bentley Dean, Mungau Dain and Jimmy Jospeh Nako attend a photocall for ‘Tanna’ during the 72nd Venice Film Festival. It was reported that Dain has died. (Getty Images)
Mungau Dain, who made a name for himself by starring in the Oscar-nominated Australian-Vanuatu film “Tanna” reportedly died due to an untreated infection in his leg that the film’s directors say was preventable.
The film’s official Facebook page shared the sad news about the first-time actor’s death. Dain was reportedly in his late 20s at the time of his death, leaving behind a wife and two young children. “Tanna” received a lot of attention, including two major prizes at the 2015 Venice film festival in 2015 and an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film. It captivated audiences for its story about the people who live in the South Pacific Ocean nation made up of many islands. One thing that set it apart from other films was the use of first-time actors that actually lived in the nation in where the film’s love story takes place.
Dain was one such actor, selected by the village chief to appear in the film in large part due to his good looks.
“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of our dear loving friend Mungau Dain today in Port Vila. We and so many people around the world met and loved Dain, his cheeky humor, dancing, flute playing, generous spirit,” The film’s Facebook page shared. “Please keep this special man, his family and friends in Yakel, Tanna in your thoughts. We will miss him. Luha.”
VENICE, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) Marie Wawa and Mungau Dain attend a photocall for ‘Tanna’ during the 72nd Venice Film Festival at Palazzo del Casino on September 8, 2015 in Venice, Italy. (Getty Images)
Speaking to The Guardian, co-directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler discussed Dain’s legacy, with the directing duo, who are married, sharing the time that Dain stayed at their home while traveling to promote the film.
“Our young children got on really well with him; he carried them on all sorts of adventures – up waterfalls and the like. He was just a very gentle soul. Mischievous,” Dean said.
“I don’t think he’d even seen a movie before. Let’s say he was a little rusty,” Butler told the outlet. “It took time to explain to him what was going on, how to approach acting, having the confidence to just give it ago. But he was tremendously keen and actively worked on it … and by the end, I thought he was great.”
Butler also noted that better access to medical treatment could have easily saved the young man’s life.
“Had Dain got to the hospital a few days earlier, got some antibiotics in him, almost certainly he would have survived … He’s now dead,” he said. “There are people in the [Vanuatu medical] system who are trying to get the knowledge out as best as they can, but there’s just no resources for it … but it could just save lives.”