‘Whale’ sails with Teuton $

Caro adapts novel, helms pic

BERLIN — German film fund Apollo Media, Cologne-based Pandora Film and New Zealand’s South Pacific Pictures are producing “Whale Rider,” based on the 1987 novel by Maori author Witi Ihimaera.

The DM8.7 million ($4.12 million) pic is also getting $475,000 from German regional film subsidy NRW Filmstiftung and backing from the new state-run New Zealand Film Production Fund, the New Zealand Film Commission and government funding agency NZ on Air.

“Whale Rider” is a contemporary tale about a girl whose relationship with a whale ends up saving her village. Niki Caro (“Memory and Desire”) adapted the novel for the screen and will helm the pic. Tim Sanders (“The Lord of the Rings,” “The Frighteners”), John Barnett from South Pacific Pictures and Frank Huebner of Apollo Media are producing. Executive producers are Bill Gavin and Linda Goldstein. Ihimaera will be associate producer. Shooting will begin this year in New Zealand. Pic’s international sales will be handled by Cologne-based Orfeo.

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