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Whale Rider

When:

Sat 22 Oct 2016, 7:00pm–8:40pm

Where: Nga Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki St, Te Aro, Wellington

Restrictions: R13

Ticket Information:

  • General admission: $10.25 ($10.00 + $0.25 fees)
  • Concession: $8.20 ($8.00 + $0.20 fees)
  • Eventfinda tickets no longer on sale

Screening as part of the “Films that Shaped New Zealand – Celebrating 120 Years of Cinema” series.

Niki Caro’s adaptation of Whiti Ihimaera’s novel of the same name is based on the universal theme of a coming of age story, but set within a specific cultural context of East Coast Ngāti Porou legend of Paikea. While made by a Pākehā director, most of the cast are Māori, many from the local area, and the film is led by an astounding performance by Keisha Castle-Hughes – who wasn’t yet a teenager at the time.

The film is one of New Zealand’s most successful performers overseas, earning USD $41 million worldwide, beaten out only by Sir Peter Jackson’s "King Kong" and "The Hobbit" / "Lord of the Rings" films. It has won multiple prizes, including Audience Choice Awards at the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, Best Children’s Feature at the BAFTAs, while Castle-Hughes was nominated for an Academy Award.

"The lush landscape of New Zealand is majestically filmed in the writer-director Niki Caro’s drama about a young girl (a radiant Keisha Castle-Hughes) who must persuade her Maori tribe that she was born to be their leader. It’s an empowerment fable, but done with disarming subtlety. Caro’s film avoids the mawkish and saccharine pitfalls of these sorts of stories, winning over the audience instead with a surefooted and inspiring sense of tradition."– Bruce Diones, The New Yorker, 4 March 2004

"The opening scenes of 'Whale Rider,' director Niki Caro’s second feature film, make its mythic dimensions clear: whales move through the deep; a woman dies in childbirth; twins are born, but only the female infant survives; a father and son argue bitterly, beginning a decade-long rift. Whale Rider’s setting may be contemporary, but the plot points are pure fable. The Maori tribe into which the little girl Pai is born claims descent from Paikea, a legendary ancestor who travelled to New Zealand on the back of the whale, and they’re waiting for a first-born son to assume tribal leadership. Based on Witi Ihimaera’s 1987 young-adult novel, 'Whale Rider' strips its story down to stark bones, losing much of the original’s sentiment and historical context, and giving Pai the narrative voice… Whatever popular success the film finds in the global village, however 'universal' the appeal of its story, 'Whale Rider' is a profoundly New Zealand film. It issues a challenge to young Maori, who no longer draw their identity from their heritage; and to older Maori, whose rigid guardianship of cultural tradition contains it in the past. It issues a challenge to all New Zealanders, for whom history begins with Abel Tasman or Captain Cook, to find inspiration in the precolonial past and, implicitly, a way forward as a distinctive nation. 'Whale Rider' asks New Zealanders to embrace what is theirs alone. That this message can’t survive the movie’s journey away from its cultural context into foreign markets does not diminish its significance." – Paula Morris, "Cineaste," Winter 2003

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