Whale Rider

Drama · 

Release Date: January 30, 2003

Status: Released

Running time: 1h 41m

Content Rating: PG-13

Budget: $8,000,000

Revenue: $41,400,000

Filming Locations: New Zealand

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On the east coast of New Zealand, the Whangara people believe their presence there dates back a thousand years or more to a single ancestor, Paikea, who escaped death when his canoe capsized by riding to shore on the back of a whale. From then on, Whangara chiefs, always the first-born, always male, have been considered Paikea's direct descendants. Pai, an 11-year-old girl in a patriarchal New Zealand tribe, believes she is destined to be the new chief. But her grandfather Koro is bound by tradition to pick a male leader. Pai loves Koro more than anyone in the world, but she must fight him and a thousand years of tradition to fulfill her destiny.

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Whale Rider is a 2002 New Zealand drama film written and directed by Niki Caro. Based on the 1987 novel The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, the film stars Keisha Castle-Hughes as Kahu Paikea Apirana, a twelve-year-old Māori girl whose ambition is to become the chief of the tribe. Her koro Apirana believes that this is a role reserved for males only.

The film was a coproduction between New Zealand and Germany. It was shot on location in Whangara, the setting of the novel. The world premiere was on 9 September 2002, at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film received critical acclaim upon its release. At age 13, Keisha Castle-Hughes became the youngest nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actress before she was surpassed by Quvenzhané Wallis, at age 9, for Beasts of the Southern Wild, in 2012, less than a decade later. The film earned $41.4 million on a NZ$9,235,000 budget. In 2005, the film was named on the BFI List of the 50 Films You Should See By the Age of 14.

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