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"In the ways of the ancients she found a hope for the future."
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Whale Rider (2003) is a tale of family generational love, evolution, traditions, and conflict, set in contemporary New Zealand. The film also contains a strong leadership theme. The saga details the trials and tribulations of a girl named Pai, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes. Pai attempts to gain respect and affection from her tough and difficult grandfather Koro, played by Rawiri Paratene. Pai and Koro are of the ancient, independent, and proud Maori. However, as a firstborn female, Pai cannot assume tribal leadership from her grandfather. This is a big disappointment for them both.

In order to compensate, Koro begins some instruction in the old and honored ways. His pupils are all of the tribal firstborn male offspring. Pai, with the assistance of her Uncle, played by Grant Roa, becomes a secret student. However, her grandfather remains stubborn, as others begin to clearly see her emerge as a leader. She does finally prove that she is completely worthy, through an incredible and epic act of valor.

Her grandfather learns that leadership is never confined to gender or birth order. This results in the family, the tribe, and all around them, all coming together. Throughout, Pai uses her ability to call the tribal sacred whales, something that others cannot do. She also proves that, although traditions must be revered and practiced, some contemporary life's issues ought to be addressed.

| 2003 | 1 hr 41 min | 7.5/10 | 80/100
Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis
Niki Caro
Produced By
John Barnett, Frank Hübner, Tim Sanders

Also starring Keisha Castle-Hughes

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