”There was no gladness when I was born”. WHALE RIDER tells the story of the Whangara people of northern New Zealand. This small Maori community has managed the transition into modern times quite poorly, and their traditional culture is about to dissolve. The young Whangaras are drunk with apathy and alcohol, and the once prosperous and proud people need a strong leader to guide them through this troubled time.
The community leader is about to retire, his son has fled the country, and his hope to find an heir seems impossible. According to a Maori myth the first Whangara chief, came riding to the shore on a whale. Whales are once again coming towards the shores. Maybe the new leader is nearer than many are able to admit. Whale Rider has won the audience award at three of the worlds most highly regarded film festivals. The adaptation of Witi Ihimaeras famous novel is beautifully shot, and Keisha Castle-Hughes is impressive as the female lead.
Niki Caro started her carreer in televisionproduction. Her first short film SURE TO RISE was nominated in both at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, and her feaure debut MEMORY AND DESIRE won an award at the New Zealand Film Awards in 1999. WHALE RIDER marks Caros definitive and has been screened at festivals all over the world.