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In a making-of featurette for The Sapphires DVD, debuting exclusively here at The Hollywood Reporter, the cast and crew explain their intensive attempt to provide authenticity to the fictional, but historically grounded, piece.
Deborah Mailman, who plays Gail, says, “For us, the younger generation, to have an understanding of what Australia was like back in that time and understand what these women did, using their strength and humor to move through that and become singers … it was really inspiring.”
The Goalpost Picture film, which was distributed by The Weinstein Co. in the U.S., is based on a 2004 play of the same name and chronicles the journey of four Australian Aboriginal women who are discovered in 1968 by an Irish talent scout (Chris O’Dowd) and sent to Vietnam to sing for troops during the war. Though the characters and the story are fictional, the spirit of and inspiration for the film are based in reality.
“My mum would often talk about times when she went to Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines, and I didn’t know anything about it,” co-writer Tony Briggs explains. “She mentioned Vietnam once too many, and I stopped her one day and said, ‘Tell me more about that.’ “
Though the casting process was described as “the longest we’ve ever done,” the film benefits from its rookie quartet (Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell), most of whom were previously under-the-radar Australian television actresses. The transition to the big screen was daunting, but the leading ladies always had some fun.
“Singing whilst dancing,” Sebbens recalls. “I just kept channeling my inner Beyonce.”
The film premiered in May 2012 out-of-competition at Cannes to a 10-minute standing ovation. It went on to break Australian box office records, garnering the highest-earning opening weekend for an Aussie film.
The Sapphires is directed by Wayne Blair and will be released on DVD August 6.
Check out the exclusive featurette above.
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