‘Whale’ of a pic tops Kiwi film prizes

Film sweeps nine categories

AUCKLAND, N.Z. — “Whale Rider,” an audience fave at fests worldwide, has scooped top honors at the New Zealand film awards presented Monday night local time in Auckland.

Pic, which has grossed more than $40 million worldwide, took honors in nine categories, including best film. Helmer Niki Caro received the director and screenwriter trophies, and pre-teen thesp Keisha Castle-Hughes drew actress kudos. Australian Lisa Gerrard’s original score also won.

The awards top a great year for the film, which was named audience favorite at festivals including Toronto, Sundance and Rotterdam. With Caro and Castle-Hughes in the U.S. drumming up the film’s Oscar chances, Caro’s awards were accepted by, respectively, the author of the source novel, Witi Ihimaera, and by Hone Taumaunu, the kaumatua, or principal tribal elder, of the coastal community where the movie was filmed. Hone’s grandson, Mana Taumaunu, won the juvenile performer award for his perf in the film.

Actor prize went to Waihoroi Shortland (Shylock in Don Selwyn’s “The Maori Merchant of Venice”), while the cinematography prize went to Aaron Morton for the New Zealand-Canada-U.K. co-production “Nemesis Game.”

And the winners are . . .

Short films

Best Technical Contribution – Short Film
Adam Clarke
Two Cars, One Night

Best Script – Short Film
Taika Waititi
Two Cars, One Night

Best Performance – Short Film
Rangi Ngamoki
Two Cars, One Night

Best Short Film
Adam Stevens
Beautiful

Digital Features

Sony award for Best Technical Contribution to a Digital Feature
Caroline Faigan
Christmas

Best Script – Digital Feature
Gregory King
Christmas

Best Performance – Digital Feature
Darien Takle
Christmas

Best Digital Feature
Leanne Saunders, Gregory King
Christmas

Special Jury Prize – Digital Feature
Christopher Brown for his role in
Orphans and Angels

Feature Films

Best Makeup
Barbara Barkey
Nemesis Game

Best Costume Design
Kirsty Cameron
Whale Rider

Best Design
Peter Cosco
Nemesis Game

Best Contribution to a Soundtrack
Tim Prebble, Dave Whitehead, Gethin Greagh
The Locals

Mana Music award for Best Original Music
Lisa Gerrard
Whale Rider

Best Editing
Bruce Lange
Nemesis Game

Atlab award for Best Cinematography
Aaron Morton
Nemesis Game

Best Screenplay
Niki Caro
Whale Rider

Best Juvenile Performer
Mana Taumaunu
Whale Rider

Best Supporting Actress
Vicky Haughton
Whale Rider

Best Supporting Actor
Cliff Curtis
Whale Rider

Simpson Grierson award for Best Actress
Keisha Castle-Hughes
Whale Rider

Oktobor award for Best Actor
Waihoroi Shortland
The Maori Merchant of Venice

Kodak award for Best Director
Niki Caro
Whale Rider

The Film Unit award for Best Film
Tim Sanders, John Barnett
Whale Rider

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