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ONCE WERE WARRIORS
1994, HanWay Films, 102 min, New Zealand, Dir: Lee Tamahori

The nominal head of the dysfunctional family at the center of this gut-wrenching drama is Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison), an alcoholic powderkeg. Wife Beth (Rena Owen) is used to his abuse, but life on the poor side of Otara, New Zealand is beginning to take its toll on their five children – and that may be enough to get her to take a stand. With its title reflecting Beth’s Maori heritage, the film is both inspiring and heartbreaking by turns, with unforgettable lead performances illuminating these complex characters. With Cliff Curtis.


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