Whale Rider

Rated NR

In a triumphant display of self-assurance and feminism, this moving modernization of an old Maori myth transcends recent superficial coming-of-age clichés. The eldest child, Pai, is a 12-year old girl named after her legendary ancestor who arrived on New Zealand’s north island on the back of a whale. Inspired by this myth and by the need to improve the doldrums of drunken stupors, unemployment woes and nicotine addictions around her, Pai adamantly wants to follow tribal customs and become the village’s next chief. However, her traditional grandfather, Chief Koro, refuses to let a female leader succeed him. The familial tensions escalate in this magical film by writer/director Niki Caro.

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