NIKI CARO
Filmmaker
1967

Directed New Zealand's highest-grossing film at the international box office

Kiwi filmmaker Niki Caro has been a bit busy of late. She's in the process of filming Disney's live-action remake of the 1998 animation Mulan, due for release in 2020. With a budget of more than $147 million, Caro is just the second woman in history to direct a major Disney blockbuster. The first, Ava DuVernay, saw her film A Wrinkle in Time hit cinemas earlier this year.

Born in Wellington, Caro studied at Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts, before earning a post-graduate diploma in film overseas.

She earned her stripes working in television advertising before her debut short film, Sure to Rise, was nominated for a Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994. A second short film Footage was selected for the Venice Film Festival before her debut feature film Memory and Desire saw her return to Cannes in 1997.

But it was her second feature film Whale Rider that made Caro a household name and proved she could combine commercial success with critical acclaim.

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In 2003, Whale Rider became New Zealand's highest-grossing film internationally, earning more than $60 million worldwide. The film also saw 13-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes nominated for a best actress Oscar.

Since then, Caro has gone on to work with some of Hollywood's biggest names and has earned a reputation for telling strong, female-centric stories. Under her direction, three actresses have earned Academy Award nominations, including Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand for North Country.

Her most recent feature, The Zookeeper's Wife, starred Jessica Chastain and earned $34m at the global box office.