The good news keeps coming for the team behind The Sapphires, with The Weinstein Company (TWC) buying international sales rights from Goalpost Films — minus some territories — and Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) director Michelle Carey choosing it as her opening night film.
Australia and New Zealand, where Hopscotch has held the rights since before cameras rolled, the UK & Ireland, France, Canada, Israel and Portugal are exempt from the Weinstein deal, as are airlines.
“These girls light up the screen as much as their music lights up the stage," said TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein in a statement issued overnight in New York. "We’re thrilled to bring the stories and music from these sisters to audiences all over the world.”
Said Carey: “Not only is this one of the most anticipated Australian films of the year, a Victorian story and a brilliant filmmaking team, the film will leave audiences on an immense high, ready to kick up their heels at what is sure to be one of the most celebratory parties of the year.”
The musical has it's out-of-competition world premiere in Cannes this Saturday. The MIFF opening night is 10 weeks later on August 2 and the film will be in cinemas seven days later.
It is based on Tony Briggs’ stage play of the same name and he and Keith Thompson wrote the big-screen version with Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne producing for Goalpost Films Australia.
Inspired by the true story of Briggs's mother and her family, The Sapphires is set in 1968 when four talented singers from an Aboriginal mission in Victoria are discovered by an unlikely talent scout, branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes and taken to Vietnam to entertain the troops and learn about love, friendship and war.
Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy and newcomers Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell play the four women and Chris O’Dowd from Bridesmaids is in the role as their manager.
“Passionate, innovative and creative marketing and distribution is what independent films require to reach an audience," said Bligh. "The Weinstein Company is one of the most talented distributors of independent films in the world, and we are thrilled that the film is in such great hands. It is a wonderful acknowledgement of the extraordinary work of the cast and crew, led so magnificently by director Wayne Blair.”
Blair is well known in theatre circles as a director and actor but has directed a lot of series television and won the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Djarn Djarns in 2005. He said that having the Australian premiere in Melbourne felt “completely right” as the women grew up in Yorta Yorta country in Victoria.
Some MIFF program details will be made available on June 5 and the full program will be released on July 11.