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Summer Indie Counter-Programming

Posted June 18, 2010 to photo album "Summer Indie Counter-Programming"

In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, Nick Dawson looks back at summer indie hits from years past.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Kids
Slide 3: The Usual Suspects
Slide 4: Ulee's Gold
Slide 5: The Full Monty
Slide 6: The Blair Witch Project
Slide 7: Ghost World
Slide 8: Whale Rider
Slide 9: 28 Days Later
Slide 10: Swimming Pool
Slide 11: American Splendor
Slide 12: Napoleon Dynamite
Slide 13: Fahrenheit 9/11
Slide 14: Broken Flowers
Slide 15: Little Miss Sunshine
Slide 16: (500) Days of Summer
Slide 8: Whale Rider

Slide 8: Whale Rider

Release Date: June 6, 2003
Domestic Gross: $20,779,666
Programmed Against: 2 Fast 2 Furious

The same week in 2003 that the fast car franchise sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious zoomed into cinemas, a much slower New Zealand film called Whale Rider by an unknown director Niki Caro about Maori culture enchanted American audiences. Based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider tells the story of a young girl, Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes), who must overcome traditional gender bias to prove she is worthy of being considered a potential leader of her tribe. In great part due to the incredible lead performance by 11-year-old Castle-Hughes, the film became a massive crowd favorite at major festivals like Toronto and Sundance, and was described by Roger Ebert as “the great audience-grabbers of recent years. … The genius of themovie isthe way is sidesteps all of the obvious clichés of the underlying story and makes itself fresh, observant, tough and genuinely moving.” Following a highly successful theatrical run, Whale Rider resurfaced at the Oscars, with Castle-Hughes becoming the youngest ever Best Actress nominee.