9 Sep 2013

Maori film in Academy Awards race

7:29 pm on 9 September 2013

Maori language film White Lies is in the race for Best Foreign Language film in the Academy Awards.

The film, written and directed by Dana Rotbeg, follows a Maori tohunga [medicine woman] in the early 20th century, as she becomes embroiled in a scandal with a rich housewife and her maid.

It is based on the short story Medicine Woman by Witi Ihimaera and produced by John Barnett, who also produced the film adaptation of Mr Ihimaera's novel Whale Rider. Maori recording artist Whirimako Black plays the lead role.

New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Graeme Mason said the film had powerful themes and strong female characters, and the commission was proud to submit it - the first time a Maori language film has been submitted for consideration in the category.

The commission submitted Samoan film The Orator into the category in 2011.

White Lies will feature at the Toronto Film Festival tomorrow afternoon New Zealand time.