On the heels of “Frozen” frenzy, Walt Disney Animation Studios announced its first Polynesian princess, a spirited and adventurous teenager named Moana, in Disney’s 56th animated film of the same name. Moana will also be the first Pacific Islander princess from the studio.
Described as a CG-animated comedy-adventure, and set in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana’s adventure takes her on “an action-packed voyage, encountering sea creatures, breathtaking underworlds and ancient folklore,” according to Disney.
The film will be directed by Ron Clements and John Musker who also directed “The Little Mermaid,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Aladdin.”
“Moana is indomitable, passionate and a dreamer with a unique connection to the ocean itself,” Musker said. “She’s the kind of character we all root for, and we can’t wait to introduce her to audiences.”
Most exciting to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) audiences who welcome but are sometimes wary of representation from mainstream outlets is that the screenplay was written by the talented and funny Maori-Russian-Jewish New Zealand writer, director, actor, comedian, and painter Taika Waititi.
Waititi is the director of the 2010 film, “Boy” — which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and is the highest grossing local film ever in New Zealand, and the 2004 short, “Two Cars, One Night” — which was nominated for an Academy Award. He also played Tom Kalmaku in the 2011 film, “Green Lantern.” He also wrote the 2003 play, “Untold Tales of Maui,” a clever updating of the many legends of the trickster demi-god Maui.
“Moana,” the movie, is expected to be released in 2016.