The Sapphires

The Sapphires

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  • Joseph Mayers
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The Sapphires (2012/2013)

Opened: 03/22/2013 Limited

Limited03/22/2013 - 05/30/201370 days
Sunshine Cinema03/22/2013 - 04/11/201321 days
Town Center 504/05/2013 - 05/23/201349 days
Playhouse 704/05/2013 - 05/09/201335 days
Monica 4-Plex04/05/2013 - 04/18/201314 days
Claremont 504/12/2013 - 04/25/201314 days
The Paris04/19/2013 - 04/25/20137 days
Village East04/26/2013 - 06/13/201349 days
AMC Empire 2504/26/2013 - 05/09/201314 days
Royal Theatre04/26/2013 - 05/09/201314 days
Music Hall 305/10/2013 - 05/30/201321 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Australian Music Comedy/Drama

Rated: PG-13 for sexuality, a scene of war violence, some language, thematic elements and smoking.

Follow Your Heart. Discover Your Soul.

The Sapphires is an inspirational tale set in the heady days of the late '60s about a quartet of young, talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission.


Four smart, gutsy young Australian Aboriginal women become unlikely stars in the most unlikely of places, with the most unlikely of allies, in THE SAPPHIRES. Set in 1968, the film follows Gail (Deborah Mailman), Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Julie (Jessica Mauboy) and Kay (Shari Sebbens) as they seize a risky, but irresistible, chance to launch a professional career singing for U.S. troops in Vietnam. Under the tutelage of an R&B-loving Irish musician, Dave Lovelace (Chris O'Dowd), the girls transform themselves into a sizzling soul act and set out to make a name for themselves hundreds of miles from home. Inspired by a true story, THE SAPPHIRES is a celebration of music, family and self-discovery.

About the Film

Gail, Cynthia and Julie are sisters who have been singing together since they were little girls, when they would clamber onto a makeshift outdoor stage to entertain family and friends on Cummeragunja Mission in the Australian Outback. The Cummeragunja Songbirds, as they are known, know how good they are, and excitement is high on the day they're scheduled to perform at a pub talent contest in a nearby town. But in late-60s Australia, three black girls from an aboriginal reserve don't stand a chance with an all-white audience. Their gorgeous rendition of a Merle Haggard tune is met with hostile silence and snide remarks, and the prize money is awarded to a spectacularly awful competitor. About the only person surprised by the outcome is the show's emcee, Dave Lovelace, an Irish musician with a propensity for autobiographical embellishment and a knack for getting himself in trouble. Dave's run of bad luck has bottomed out with a gig as the pub's house pianist -- a gig that is promptly terminated when he protests the audience's snub in colorfully profane terms.

As Dave attempts to beat a hasty retreat from town, he's buttonholed by Julie, brandishing a newspaper clipping. Auditions are being held in Melbourne to select performers to entertain American troops in Vietnam. The sisters don't know much about Vietnam or the war there, but they do know that this may be their one true chance at a music career. There's also money to be made, and having none of his own, Dave agrees to come on board as the trio's musical director-cum-manager. There is, however, a proviso: he wants the girls to drop their country & western songs and learn to sing soul music, which is more likely to resonate with American GIs. And which just happens to be Dave's great musical love.

By the time they get to the Melbourne auditions, the sisters have become a polished soul act, with matching mini-dresses and choreographed moves. They've also reunited with the long-lost fourth Songbird: their cousin, Kay, a fair-skinned blond who was part of the childhood troupe until she was taken from her family and sent to live among white people. Ten years later, tensions simmer between Gail and Kay, but the ghosts of the past take a backseat -- for the moment -- to the opportunity of a lifetime. The Songbirds emerge from their tryout with a job and a new name: The Sapphires.

Arriving in South Vietnam, The Sapphires and Dave find themselves touring from venue to venue, beyond Saigon and into the jungles and river deltas. Over the days and weeks, The Sapphires will sing up a storm, butt heads with Dave and with one another, fall in love and get their first taste of success. They will witness first-hand the reality of war and feel what it's like to have the world turned frighteningly upside down. They will reach a new understanding about themselves, and one other, and the bonds they share as women, family, Aboriginals. The Sapphires find their soul, and with it a powerful vision of what the future can hold for them back home.

The Weinstein Company presents THE SAPPHIRES. Starring Chris O'Dowd (BRIDESMAIDS), Deborah Mailman (RABBIT- PROOF FENCE), Jessica Mauboy (BRAN NUE DAE), Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Tory Kittles ("Sons of Anarchy"), Eka Darville ("Terra Nova"), Lynette Narkle (HEARTLAND), Kylie Belling (UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD) and Gregory J. Fryer ("The Circuit"). THE SAPPHIRES is directed by Wayne Blair, written by Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs, and based on the play "The Sapphires," by Tony Briggs. It is produced by Rosemary Blight and Kylie de Fresne; the executive producers are Ben Grant, Tristan Whalley, Lee Soon Kie, John Sim, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein. Director of photography is Warwick Thornton, the production designer is Melinda Doring, the editor is Dany Cooper, the costume designer is Tess Schofield, and the hair & make-up supervisor is Nikki Gooley. The music producer is Bry Jones, the choreographer is Stephen Page, and composer is Cezary Skubiszewski.

Director's 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 beyond the circumstances they're born into and reach their full potential not only as musical talents but more so as human beings.

In Australia 1968, the racial divide was significant.

Aboriginal people had just got the right to vote. My own Nana died in 1966... she died in her own country classed as an outsider.

In our film, these outside girls match their talent with sheer will and through the eyes of an Irish man, and on the heartbeat of soul music, they get plucked from obscurity to sing for the soldiers in Vietnam. Through this chance of a lifetime they find themselves momentarily free.

Soul music is one of the defining elements in the project. My family grew up on the sounds of Aretha and Marvin, Sly and the Family Stone. Yet the true power of this music is that all classes of people love this music. It is infectious.

It remains with you and becomes you.

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.

A chance my Nana never had, but through her tenacity and strength of character, now... I do.

-- Wayne Blair, Director