University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Acclaimed Film 'Whale Rider'
To Screen at UW-Eau Claire

 MAILED:  Sept. 28, 2004

EAU CLAIRE —"Whale Rider," an inspiring contemporary story about a young Maori girl who fights to fulfill her destiny, will be presented Oct. 7-10 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Called "one of the great audience-grabbers of recent years" by film critic Roger Ebert, the 2002 film from New Zealand will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

"Whale Rider" is set in a dwindling coastal community where the villagers claim descent from Paikea, the Whale Rider. In every generation for more than a thousand years, a male heir born to the chief succeeds to the title. Twelve-year-old Pai (Oscar-nominated Keisha Castle-Hughes) is the chief's only child. Although she fiercely believes she is destined to lead her people, she cannot convince their aged patriarch, her obstinate grandfather, who is bound by tradition to find a male leader.

"This is not a simplistic fable but the story of real people living in modern times," wrote film critic Roger Ebert. "The genius of the movie is the way it sidesteps all of the obvious cliches of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving. There is a vast difference between movies for 12-year-old girls, and movies about 12-year-old girls, and 'Whale Rider' proves it."

"Like last year's Inuit sensation 'The Fast Runner,' the Maori drama 'Whale Rider' is based on a folk myth, and it's told with an elemental timelessness that feels like a swan dive into prehistory," wrote Boston Globe reviewer Ty Burr. "'Whale Rider' has been filmed with lush end-of-the-world beauty, and the mysticism that flits about the edges of the narrative becomes satisfyingly overt by the climactic scenes... It's a re-founding myth that happens in real time, before an audience's wondering eyes."

Niki Caro's 101-minute film is rated PG-13 for language and a brief drug reference.

Admission is $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff and $1 for UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center's east lobby, (715) 836-3727. The film is sponsored by the University Activities Commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.

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JS/NW

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: September 28, 2004