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Oscars: New Zealand Nominates 'White Lies' in Foreign Language Category

9:33 AM PST 09/07/2013 by Scott Roxborough

Dana Rotberg's Maori-language film is based on the novella "Medicine Woman" by "Whale Rider" author Witi Ihimaera.

BERLIN – New Zealand has nominated White Lies, a Maori-language film based on a book by Whale Rider author Witi Ihimaera, for next year's best foreign language film Oscar.

Directed by Dana Rotberg, the film features the acting debut of Maori recording artist Whirimako Black, playing a traditional Maori medicine woman who is coaxed into helping a domestic servant (Rachel House) and her wealthy employer (Antonia Prebble). It is adapted from Ihimaera's novella Medicine Woman and produced by Whale Rider's John Barnett.

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This is only the second time New Zealand has submitted a film for the Academy's foreign language category, following Tusi Tamasese's The Orator in 2011. It was picked by New Zealand's Oscar election committee, which includes five Lord of the Rings alumni (director Peter Jackson, writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, costume designer Ngila Dickson and production designer Grant Major) alongside New Zealand Film Commission CEO Graeme Mason and cinematographer John Toon (The Jane Austin Book Club).

White Lies bowed in New Zealand in June and screening this week at the Toronto Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema section.

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