Whale Rider

FAMILY MATINÉE – All seats $6.

Beautifully shot, acted and directed, Whale Rider is a contemporary version of an aboriginal legend from New Zealand that will delight audiences of all ages. Keisha Castle-Hughes is Pai, a 12-year-old Maori girl of singular determination, who has been raised by her grandmother and grandfather. Pai decides her destiny is to succeed her grandfather, Koro, as tribal leader, in defiance of a millennium of tradition that the chief is always a male.

Poster for the New Zealand family drama Whale RiderHer grandfather angrily refuses to let Pai attend the classes he’s giving to boys in their coastal village in hopes of grooming a successor. But Pai watches on the sly and becomes the most skilled at handling weapons, diving and singing tribal chants. This makes Koro even more furious. Finally, it’s up to the whales – sacred to Maori beliefs – to show Koro the error of his ways in a remarkable, heartbreaking sequence.

This excellent adaptation of Witi Ihimaera’s novel is a fine way to teach your children that movies don’t begin and end with Hollywood blockbusters.

– Lou Lumenick, The Washington Post

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