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Whale Rider (2002)

Coming Out at 30 January 2003 in theaters.

Drama, Family

Whale Rider is family drama film written and directed by Niki Caro. Based on the novel of the same name by Witi Ihimaera, the film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Kahu Paikea Apirana, a twelve-year-old Māori girl whose ambition is to become the chief of the tribe. Her grandfather Koro Apirana believes that this is a role reserved for males only.

The film was a coproduction between New Zealand and Germany. It was shot on location in Whangara, the setting of the novel. The world premiere was on 9 September 2002, at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film received critical acclaim upon its release. At age 13, Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actress before she was surpassed by Quvenzhané Wallis, at age 9, for Beasts of the Southern Wild less than a decade later. The film earned $41.4 million on a NZ$9,235,000 budget. In 2005, the film was named on the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.

The film’s plot follows the story of Paikea Apirana (“Pai”). The village leader should be the first-born son, a direct patrilineal descendant of Paikea, the Whale Rider, he who rode on top of a whale (Tohora) from Hawaiki. Pai is originally born a twin, but her twin brother and her mother died during childbirth. Pai is female and so technically cannot inherit the leadership. While her grandfather, Koro, later forms an affectionate bond with his granddaughter, carrying her to school every day on his bicycle, he also condemns her and blames her for conflicts happening within the tribe.

Director: Niki Caro

Writers: Niki Caro, Witi Ihimaera (book)

Stars: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis, Grant Roa, Mana Taumaunu, Rachel House


Keisha Castle-HughesPaikea
Rawiri ParateneKoro
Vicky HaughtonNanny Flowers
Cliff CurtisPorourangi
Grant RoaUncle Rawiri
Mana TaumaunuHemi
Rachel HouseShilo
Taungaroa EmileWillie
Tammy DavisDog
Mabel WharekawaMaka
Rawinia ClarkeMiro
Tahei SimpsonMiss Parata
Roi TaimanaHemi’s Dad
Elizabeth SkeenRehua
Tyronne WhiteJake
Taupua Whakataka-BrightwellRopata
Tenia McClutchie-MitaWiremu
Peter PatuwaiBubba
Rutene SpoonerParekura
Riccardo DavisMaui
Apiata Whangaparita-ApanuiHenare
John SumnerObstetrician
Sam WoodsYoung Rawiri
Pura TangiraAce
Jane O’KaneAnne
Aumuri Parata-HauaBaby Paikea

Sources: imdb & wikipedia

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