JUNEAU - "Whale Rider," the audience-award winner this year at the Toronto and Sundance film festivals, opens Friday, Sept. 5, at the 20th Century Theatre.
The movie takes place in present-day New Zealand and stars Keisha Castle-Hughes, who plays Pai, a 12-year-old Maori girl who knows that her dead twin brother was the intended chief of her village. Pai is raised by her grandparents in accordance with traditional Maori culture, but she eavesdrops on classes her grandfather teaches to the boys in the village and learns the ways of men.
"Whale Rider" is the third film from director Niki Caro. It plays at 7 p.m. starting Friday at 20th Century Twin, with evening shows at 9:15 Friday and Saturday, and afternoon matinees at 2:15 and 4:30 Saturday and Sunday.
"It's not just an uplifting ending, but a transcendent one, inspired and inspiring, and we realize how special this movie really is," wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. "So many films by and about teenagers are mired in vulgarity and stupidity; this one, like its heroine, dares to dream."
"Winged Migration," playing at the Gold Town Nickelodeon and directed by Jacques Perrin, is an up-close, Oscar-nominated documentary about birds. It is the airborne equivalent of the 1996 film "Microcosmos," a highly detailed, stop-motion look at the world of insects.
"Facts are not the purpose of 'Winged Migration,' " Ebert wrote in the Sun-Times. "It wants to allow us to look, simply look, at birds - and that goal it achieves magnificently. There are sights here I will not easily forget. The film opens and closes with long aerial tracking shots showing birds in long-distance flight into the wind, and we realize how very hard it is to fly a thousand miles or more."
"Winged Migration," plays at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5; 4, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6; and 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, at the Gold Town Nickelodeon.