Whale Rider


(out of 5)

A little girl () is born to a disappointed family when her twin brother dies along with her mother and leaves her Whangara community, under her grandfather as chief, without a natural heir and leader. Growing up under harsh traditionalism, she discovers within herself the desire to be the one to take the lead and be her people’s new hope. Her grandfather, however, will hear nothing of a girl doing a man’s job and completely ignores her physically and emotionally until a devastating climax forces him to widen his horizons. The story itself is painfully familiar, but director Niki Caro infuses it with so much dazzling, hypnotic imagery and rich cultural detail that you can’t help but be taken away by it. And if that doesn’t do it for you, then Castle-Hughes’ complex performance will definitely be what gets you there; I defy anyone not to be moved by the speech she performs at her school’s concert.

New Zealand/Germany, 2002

Directed by

Screenplay by Niki Caro, based on the book by

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  TIFF 2002Sundance 2003

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  , ,

Academy Award Nomination
Best Actress in a Leading Role (Keisha Castle-Hughes as “Paikea”)

National Board Of Review Award
Special Recognition, for excellence in filmmaking

Screen Actors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Keisha Castle-Hughes)

Independent Spirit Award
Best Foreign Film

Sundance Film Festival Award
Audience Award, World Cinema

Chicago Film Critics Award
Most Promising Performer (Keisha Castle-Hughes)

Best Actress (Keisha Castle-Hughes)
Most Promising Filmmaker



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