'The Sapphires' to Open Melbourne International Film Festival

The Sapphires film still - H

Hopscotch Films will release the film, which has its world premiere at Cannes on May 19, in its home territory of Australia on Aug. 9.

SYDNEY -- It’s a big week for Goalpost Pictures Australia and their upcoming feature, the indigenous musicalThe Sapphires

The film will have its Australian premiere as the opening film of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) on Aug. 2, with its commercial Australian release by Hopscotch Films confirmed for Aug. 9.

The announcement came at the same time as the Weinstein Co. said it had acquired worldwide rights to the film. The Sapphires will have its world premiere in official selection on May 19 at the Cannes Film Festival.

MIFF director Michelle Carey said the festival “is thrilled to be presenting The Sapphires straight from Cannes. 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 Sapphires follows four young and talented Australian Aboriginal girls from a remote mission as they learn about love, friendship and war when their girl group The Sapphires entertains the U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. It was written by Aboriginal playwright Tony Briggs, whose mother and family members were part of The Sapphires group, along with Keith Thompson. The film was produced by Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne of Goalpost Pictures Australia.

The film stars Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids), Deborah Mailman (Radiance) and Australian pop artist Jessica Mauboy. Warwick Thornton, who won the 2009 Camera d’Or at Cannes for Samson and Delilah, served as director of photography.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen for this special screening and feels completely right as the genesis of the story of The Sapphires began in beautiful Yorta Yorta country, Victoria, where these four amazing Aboriginal women grew up,” director Wayne Blair said.

The Sapphires kicks off the 18 day MIFF which will run through to August 19, with over 300 films programmed this year. A selection of films will be announced on June 5, and the full program including the closing night film, will be announced on July 11.