Whale Rider

Director: Niki Caro

When Pai, the most recent descendant in a long-line of Maori chiefs is born a female, the girl’s grandfather treats her coldly, shunning her true calling to lead her people. When Pai reaches the age of twelve, his failure to include her in a new school for young Maori men to search for the village’s new leader, causes the determined young woman to teach herself the Maori ways while standing on the sidelines. The embodiment of girl power, Niki Caro’s smash New Zealand film struck a chord with audiences across the world, garnering its young star, Keisha Castle-Hughes an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her inspiring turn as Pai. Touching, universal and a genuine crowd pleaser, while obviously predictable in its screenplay development, (which ensures that a plot point happens every so often), the film is so engrossing and beautifully executed that you forgive it for its failure to stray from typical three act structure and heroic arc.