Oscar Foreign-Language Submission a Battle of Wills
Based on the novella Medicine Woman by Witi Ihimaera, New Zealand’s 2014 foreign-language Oscar submission, White Lies (Tuakiri Huna) is a period drama about three women drawn together in conflict.
David Rooney, reviewer for the Hollywood Reporter continues: “The first feature made by Mexican writer-director Dana Rotberg in her adopted country, New Zealand, White Lies is a solemn account of the battle of wills among three early-20th century women all scarred in profound ways by the ravages of colonialism.
“Anchored by the strong presence of singer Whirimako Black in her first acting role, the film is based on a novella by Whale Rider author Ihimaera. Its languid pacing and stiffly theatrical structure are limitations, but the handsome production’s intimate exploration of motherhood in extremis will resonate for female audiences.
“The glue that holds the film together is Black’s Paraiti, a figure who serves to fortify the primal connection of mother and child, and of a people with their land. Her earthy intensity centres the drama with a commanding stillness, and the concluding notes of forgiveness and enduring tradition are conveyed with gentle poignancy.
“Cinematographer Alun Bollinger makes an atmospheric setting of Tracey Collins’ period production design, but the strongest visual assets are the majestic locations around Ruatahuna in the North Island. John Psathas’ score makes delicate use of traditional Maori instruments.”