Whale Rider

Whale Rider

New Zealand | 2002 | 101 min. | Niki Caro

March 1, 2023

SIFF Movie Club

A young Maori girl seeks to win the approval of her grandfather to ascend to chiefdom in her tribe—a custom traditionally reserved for males.

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

The Whangara people believe their ancestor Paikea was saved from drowning by riding home on the back of a whale. The tribal group has since granted leadership positions to first-born males, believing them to be Paikea descendants. The village is in crisis when the leadership heir dies at birth, survived only by twin sister Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes). Shunned by her village, Pai summons the strength to challenge centuries of tradition to fulfill her destiny. An early-2000s arthouse smash hit from director Niki Caro (Mulan), Whale Rider won Toronto International Film Festival’s World Cinema audience award before enrapturing worldwide audiences and garnering preteen lead Castle-Hughes an Oscar nod for Best Actress.

  • Director: Niki Caro
  • Principal Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes
  • Country: New Zealand, Germany
  • Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 101 min.
  • Producer: John Barnett, Frank Hübner, Tim Sanders
  • Screenplay: Niki Caro
  • Cinematographers: Leon Narbey
  • Editors: David Coulson
  • Music: Lisa Gerrard
  • Language: English, Maori
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • US Distributor: American Genre Film Archive