Issue date: 
Monday, 9 September 2013

White Lies (Tuakiri Huna), the New Zealand Film Commission funded Māori language feature film written and directed by Dana Rotberg, has been submitted as the official New Zealand entry for consideration for Best Foreign Language film for the 86th Academy Awards.

White Lies is from the award-winning producer of the Oscar® nominated Whale Rider John Barnett, and was written and directed by Dana Rotberg (Ángel de Fuego).  The film is based on the novella 'Medicine Woman' by Witi Ihimaera, also the author of the novel ‘Whale Rider’.

White Lies is being presented this week at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema selection. 

Making the announcement Graeme Mason, New Zealand Film Commission Chief Executive said, “White Lies is a beautiful film with powerful themes and strong female characters, set in Māori culture.  We are incredibly proud that this is the second time that New Zealand has submitted a film for consideration for the Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards®, the first being The Orator two years ago.”

Rotberg credits Whale Rider as her inspiration to move to New Zealand from her native Mexico.  Prior to moving to New Zealand, Dana Rotberg has lived and worked as a writer, director and producer in Mexico, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina and has three times opened the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes (Ángel de Fuego/Angel of Fire; MGM Sarajeveo: Covjek, Bog, Monstrum and The Perfect Circle).

The film stars Antonia Prebble, Rachel House and marks the acting debut of New Zealand Māori recording artist Whirimako Black.

Paraiti (Whirimako Black) is the healer and midwife of her rural, tribal people – she believes in life.  But new laws are in force prohibiting unlicensed healers.  On a rare trip to the city, she is approached by Maraea (Rachel House), the servant of a wealthy woman, Rebecca (Antonia Prebble), who seeks her knowledge and assistance to hide a secret which could destroy Rebecca’s position in European settler society.  If the secret is uncovered a life may be lost, but hiding it may also have fatal consequences.  Paraiti, Maraea and Rebecca become players in a head-on clash of beliefs, deception and ultimate salvation.

The Academy invites countries to select and submit its best foreign language motion picture for consideration.  Selection of the film must be made by a committee that includes esteemed artists from the film industry.  The New Zealand Oscar Selection Committee comprises Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Ngila Dickson, Grant Major, Graeme Mason and John Toon.

White Lies has been produced by South Pacific Pictures and financed by the New Zealand Film Commission and in association with NZ On Air. 

The film is being represented at Toronto by Film Sales Company.

To view the full list of films selected for the Toronto International Film Festival, see the TIFF website.

To view the rules and eligibility and the timeline for the Academy Awards, please go here.

Last updated: 
Tuesday, 17 September 2013