The Weinstein Company acquired global distribution rights to the Australian film, calling it a "feel-good" movie, after it screened at the Cannes Film Festival last May, and it was announced last week that TWC will open the film in the USA on March 22.
The Australian musical drama titled The Sapphires, is inspired by the real-life story of a soul singing quartet comprised of 4 Aborigine women (all sisters) who were the heroines of a play in which writer/director Wayne Blair was an actor in 2005.
Fast-forward 7 years later, and that experience has been reimagined as a feature-length film that's captured audiences all over the world, as it's traveled the international film festival circuit.
Branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes, the film's full synopsis reads:
1968 was the year the planet went haywire. All around the globe, there were riots and revolution in the streets. There were hard drugs, soft drugs, free love and psychedelic music. There was the shock of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy’s assassinations. And dominating every other news story… There was Vietnam. For four gorgeous young women from a remote Aboriginal mission, 1968 was the year that changed their lives forever. Sisters Gail, Julie and Cynthia, together with their cousin Kay, are discovered by Dave, a down-on-his-luck Irish musician with attitude, a taste for Irish Whiskey and an ear for Soul Music. Dave steers the girls away from their Country & Western origins then flies them to the war-zones of South Vietnam, where they sing Soul Classics for the American Marines. On tour in the Mekong Delta, the girls sing up a storm, dodge bullets… And fall in love.
The Sapphires stars Chris O’Dowd, Aboriginal actress Deborah Mailman, pop singer Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, and Tory Kittles.
It was released in Australia last year, and was a box off smash - the best opening for an Australian movie in almost two years - and picked up 12 nominations in the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, which were handed out yesterday, in an event hosted by Russell Crowe. The film won 11 of the 12, including majors like Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Lead Actor, Best Lead Actress, and more!
Clearly, it's well-like in the land down under.
USA audiences will now get to see what the hype is all about for themselves in March.
Full release with all the winners follows below:
Stars Shine at 2nd AACTA Awards Ceremony
The Star Event Centre Sydney, 30 January 2013
Host Russell Crowe and Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) President, Geoffrey Rush, were joined on stage by internationally acclaimed Australian actors including Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman to honour the year’s best achievements in Australian film and television at the 2nd AACTA Awards Ceremony. The event was held at the brand new The Star Event Centre in Sydney, and broadcast on Network Ten.
It was a golden night for The Sapphires, crowning a year already filled with sparkling success. Since premiering in Cannes in May 2012, the toe-tapping musical drama about four Aboriginal girls who formed a singing group in the 1960s has garnered audience awards all over the world and box office triumph at home. Tonight saw The Sapphires take home six AACTA Awards - Best Film, Best Director (Wayne Blair), Best Lead Actress (Deborah Mailman), Best Lead Actor (Chris O’Dowd), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Mauboy) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Keith Thompson, Tony Briggs) - bringing the film’s tally to a total of 11 AACTA Awards, including the five previously announced at the 2nd AACTA Awards Luncheon, presented by Deluxe, on Monday 28 January.
The dramatic thriller Wish You Were Here, shot and set partly in Cambodia, won the AACTA Award for Best Original Screenplay for husband and wife creative team writer/director Kieran Darcy-Smith and writer/actress Felicity Price. Antony Starr also won Best Supporting Actor for his enigmatic performance in Wish You Were Here.
The luminous young German actress, Saskia Rosendahl, received the AACTA Award for Best Young Actor for her lead performance in the stunning German language film Lore, directed by Cate Shortland. Just 17 years old at the time of filming, this was Rosendahl’s first feature film role.
A special highlight of the 2nd AACTA Awards Ceremony was the presentation of the Byron Kennedy Award to the late filmmaker, animator and artist Sarah Watt (1958 – 2011), accepted on her behalf by her son, Clem McInnes. A moving video tribute reminded audiences of the consummate skill, elegance and humour Watt brought to the screen in works like Look Both Ways, Small Treasures and My Year Without Sex. Presented by Matt Day, Watt was chosen as this year’s Byron Kennedy Award recipient “for her brave, innovative filmmaking’’ and because “without pretension, her work broke all the rules, yet her singular view connected to a wide audience by its profound emotional honesty.”
Marking another brilliant year for Australian television, the 2nd AACTA Awards Ceremony celebrated seven television programs across four networks. John Edwards and Southern Star Productions confirmed their reputation for top-notch drama, with Channel Ten’s Puberty Blues winning Best Television Drama Series and Channel Nine’s Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War winning Best Telefeature or Mini Series. Mandy McElhinney, loved by millions as ’Rhonda’ in an Australian Bali-based advertising campaign, also won Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama for her endearing performance as Kerry Packer’s longsuffering secretary, Rose Mitchell.
The ABC was a big winner, with the groundbreaking Indigenous drama Redfern Now winning Best Screenplay in Television (Steven McGregor for Episode 6) and Leah Purcell winning Best Lead Actress in a Television Drama for her performance in Episode 1. Also at the ABC, Rake co-creator and star, Richard Roxburgh took home the AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor for his performance as the lovable rogue, Cleaver Greene. Jeffrey Walker won Best Direction in Television for Jack Irish: Bad Debts, also for the ABC.
Aaron Jeffery won the AACTA award for Best Guest or Supporting Actor in a Television Drama for his performance as bikie-turned-police-informant Frank O’Rourke in the Nine Network’s Underbelly Badness.
In 2012 the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts introduced the new AACTA Award for Best Reality Television Series, and the first recipient of this award was announced tonight, with the exciting adventure-based contest of The Amazing Race Australia (Channel Seven) taking home the golden statuette.
The news.com.au Audience Choice Award for Most Memorable Screen Moment was also announced on the night, with a win by The Sapphires confirming the public’s love of the film, along with the industry’s.
In addition to Award presentations by some of Australia’s most successful performers and practitioners, the 2nd AACTA Awards Ceremony featured some of the most popular names in Australian entertainment, including show-stopping performances by Jessica Mauboy and the cast of The Sapphires, accompanied by original members of the Indigenous girl group, and Dragon, who performed the theme song from Puberty Blues, “Are You Old Enough?”.
The complete list of winners announced at the 2ND AACTA Awards Ceremony is as follows:
BYRON KENNEDY AWARD
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ACTOR
Saskia Rosendahl. Lore.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES
Puberty Blues. John Edwards, Imogen Banks. Network Ten. SBS
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE OR MINI SERIES
Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War. John Edwards, Mimi Butler. Nine Network
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION IN TELEVISION
Jack Irish: Bad Debts. Jeffrey Walker. ABC1
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY IN TELEVISION
Redfern Now – Episode 6 'Pretty Boy Blue'. Steven McGregor. ABC1
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Richard Roxburgh. Rake – Season 2. ABC1
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Leah Purcell. Redfern Now. ABC1
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Aaron Jeffery. Underbelly Badness – Episode 3 ‘The Loaded Dog’. Nine Network.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA
Mandy McElhinney. Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War – Part 2. Nine Network.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST REALITY TELEVISION SERIES
The Amazing Race Australia. Michael McKay, Trent Chapman, David Gardner, Matt Kowald. Seven Network.
NEWS.COM.AU AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR MOST MEMORABLE SCREEN MOMENT
• The Sapphires.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FILM
The Sapphires. Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION
The Sapphires. Wayne Blair.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Wish You Were Here. Kieran Darcy-Smith, Felicity Price.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Sapphires. Keith Thompson, Tony Briggs.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR
Chris O’Dowd. The Sapphires.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS
Deborah Mailman. The Sapphires.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Antony Starr. Wish You Were Here.
AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jessica Mauboy. The Sapphires.
The AACTA Awards are proudly supported by the New South Wales Government, through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
Watch the trailer for the film below; and underneath you'll find an additional clip: