*PLEASE NOTE: This film is rated PG-13, for brief strong language, a brief drug reference and a childbirth scene.
This crowd-pleasing, Oscar-nominated family film from New Zealand is a magical and deeply moving story of one young girl’s struggle to fulfill her destiny. Only males are allowed to ascend to chiefdom in a Maori tribe in New Zealand. This ancient custom is upset when the child selected to be the next chief dies at birth. However, his twin sister, Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes, who received a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her stunning performance), survives.
“One of the great audience-grabbers of recent years. The genius of the movie is the way is side-steps all of the obvious clichés of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
At age 12, she enlists the help of her grandmother (Vicky Haughton) and the training of her uncle (Grant Roa) to claim her birthright. But to break with a thousand years of tradition, she’ll have to do the impossible: stand up to her ultra-traditional grandfather (Rawiri Paratene) and convince him that she has what it takes to be named the next tribal chief. Directed by Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife), and based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider is a unique, uplifting and beautifully-photographed tale of a young woman who dares to dream, and in the process, points her people toward the future. (Dir. by Niki Caro, 2002, New Zealand/Germany, in English and Maori with English subtitles, 101 mins., Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, a brief drug reference and childbirth scene)