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Once Were Warriors

Original title
Once Were Warriors
Year
Running time
92 min.
Country
New Zealand New Zealand
Director
Screenwriter
Riwia Brown (Novel: Alan Duff)
Music
Murray Grindlay, Murray McNabb
Cinematography
Stuart Dryburgh
Cast
, , , , , , , , ,
Producer
Communicado Productions / New Zealand Film Commission / Avalon Studios / New Zealand On Air
Genre
Drama | Family Relationships. Alcoholism
Synopsis / Plot
Once Were Warriors is a powerful and deeply affecting story of a contemporary Maori family in urban New Zealand. This debut film by Lee Tamahori has become a tremendous success in its native New Zealand, the highest-grossing film in the country's history, surpassing The Piano and Jurassic Park.

Beth Heke (Rena Owen) is a feisty, beautiful mother of five who, after eighteen years of marriage, is still deeply in love with her volatile husband Jake (Temuera Morrison ). Jake is a muscular, handsome man who exudes an explosive sexual energy; it is easy to see why Beth finds him hard to resist.

Jake spends most of his time at the local pub, guzzling beer and proving his masculinity with his fists. If Beth dares to question or challenge him, her answer often comes in a similarly violent form. But Beth is a survivor; it will take more than a few knocks to conquer her spirit. In spite of his violence, Beth is still in love with her husband, but is losing daily battles against the violent forces in and outside her home that desperately threaten to pull her family apart.

Although one son has joined a gang and another has been taken by the state to a home for delinquent boys, her beautiful teenage daughter Grace is still untouched. She is a thoughtful girl and a gifted writer who embodies Beth's own hopes for a brighter future. Grace's special gifts set her apart from her tough, urban surroundings and make her the most vulnerable member of the family. What happens to Grace changes the family's life forever and forces Beth to draw on her own Maori roots and personal strength to courageously turn adversity into triumph and create new hope for her own and her family's survival.
Awards
1994: Festival Montreal: 4 Awards, including Best Movie and Actress (Rena Owen)
1994: Venice Film Festival: Best ópera prima
1995: Chicago Film Critics Association: 3 Nom., incl. Best Actress (Rena Owen)
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