Magazine article Screen International

Whale Rider Producer and Novelist Reteam for Medicine Woman

Magazine article Screen International

Whale Rider Producer and Novelist Reteam for Medicine Woman

Article excerpt

Film starts shooting on Monday.

Cameras roll Monday in New Zealand on Medicine Woman, from Mexican director Dana Rotberg (Otilia Rauda, Angel del Fuego, Intimacy), who adapted the script from a novella by Witi Ihimaera, whose book Whale Rider spawned a worldwide breakout hit.

New Zealand's annual film output is very small but Medicine Woman is one of four films funded by the New Zealand Film Commission that are either in production or about to begin filming. The others are The Weight of Elephants, an unofficial co-production with Denmark, the family-oriented drama Mt Zion, directed by Tearepa Kahi and starring Temuera Morrison and Stan Walker, and Warp Films Australia's second film Shopping.

A sales company is not yet attached to Medicine Woman, which is from Auckland-based South Pacific Pictures (SPP), one of the production companies behind Whale Rider. SPP chief executive and Whale Rider's John Barnett, is producing the new film with Chris Hampson.

The connections between Medicine Woman and Whale Rider don't end there: Rotberg booked two one-way tickets to New Zealand for her and her daughter a day after first seeing Whale Rider at a local cinema close to where she was living in southern California.

The cast includes Antonia Prebble, Rachel House and singer/songwriter Whirimako Black, who plays Paraiti, a medicine woman who is asked to hide a secret in order to protect someone's status in society.

The story was inspired by Ihimaera's visit to a traditional Maori healer when conventional medicine failed to cure him when he was a young boy, according to SPP spokeswoman Tamar Munch, and also by how Indian-born Hollywood actress Merle Oberon disguised her ethnic origins. …

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