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The Sapphires

Three Aboriginal sisters – feisty Gail, foxy Cynthia and the supremely talented Julie – are discovered in a country pub talent contest by down-on-his luck ‘soul brother’ Dave (Chris O’Dowd).

Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.


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  • Director Wayne Blair
  • Producer Rosemary Blight, Kylie Du Fresne
  • Screenwriter Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
  • With Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy
  • Australia 2012
  • 101 mins
  • UK distribution Entertainment One UK

Delightful, humorous and pulsating with great 60s soul music, this infectious film is as sparkling as the sequins on a girl-group’s stage frock. Three Aboriginal sisters – feisty Gail (award-winning Deborah Mailman), foxy Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) and the supremely talented Julie (Australian Idol winner Jessica Mauboy) – are discovered in a country pub talent contest by down-on-his luck ‘soul brother’ Dave (Chris O’Dowd). Captivated by their singing voices, but not by their musical choices, the boozy Irishman convinces the Cummeraganja Songbirds to abandon Merle Haggard covers (along with their band name) and remodels them into an energetic soul outfit. Keen to leave their mission life and the racist small town behind them, the girls and their wayward manager head to Melbourne, track down their ‘stolen’ cuz Kay (Shari Sebbens) and sign-up to sing for the troops in Vietnam. Adapted from the successful Australian stage musical of the same name – director Wayne Blair was also associate director on the Barbican season last year – The Sapphires is inspired by the remarkable true story of co-writer and author of the original stage-play Tony Briggs’ mother and three aunts. Overflowing with great musical numbers, this joyous debut feature is peppered throughout with just enough social bite to keep it grounded.
Clare Stewart

Director statement

When I read this script I feel the energy and emotion pulsing in my veins. The Sapphires are four black twenty-something women who, for one brief period of time, have an opportunity to transcend the circumstances they’re born into and reach their full potential not only as musical talents but more so as human beings. The Sapphires is inspired by a true story, and it possesses all the qualities of ordinary people achieving amazing things in extraordinary circumstances. Four sexy, young, talented, black, strong women, make a decision and take a chance.
Wayne Blair

Director biography

Born in 1971 in Taree, New South Wales, he has built a strong tripartite career as writer, director and actor in each of theatre, television and film. His short The Djarn Djarns won the 2005 Crystal Bear Award in the Kinderfilmfest competition at the Berlin Film Festival and was named Best Australian Short at the Film Critics’ Circle Awards; while he also co-scripted Deborah Mailman's 2010 short Ralph. He has helmed 25 episodes of the TV series Double Trouble, Dead Gorgeous and Lockie Leonard since 2007, while his on-screen endeavours include a role in the feature Wish You Were Here, also playing in this year’s LFF.

Filmography

2001 Fade 2 Black [s]; Jubulj [s]
2002 Black Talk [s]
2003 Kathy
2005 The Djarn Djarns [s]
2012 The Sapphires

Read the Time Out review.


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