The Sapphires to open Melbourne International Film Festival

The Melbourne International Film Festival will open with the Australian premiere of The Sapphires, set in the 1960s around an Indigenous all-girl soul group taken from the outback to Vietnam to entertain the troops.

The announcement:

The 61st Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is proud to announce that the 2012 Festival will open with the Australian Premiere of The Sapphires. Australia’s brightest stars and biggest names in film and entertainment will walk the red carpet at one of the most anticipated events on the Australian film calendar.

Festival Director Michelle Carey commented “MIFF 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 is the feature film debut for acclaimed theatre director and actor Wayne Blair and is produced by Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne. Based on the stage play of the same name, the film was adapted by Keith Thompson (Clubland) and Tony Briggs from the original play by Tony Briggs. Inspired by the remarkable true story of Briggs’ mother and her family, it is set in the heady days of 1968 when four talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission in Victoria are discovered by an unlikely talent scout. Plucked from obscurity and branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes, The Sapphires are offered their first real gig entertaining the troops in Vietnam, and from there a luminous new world opens up before them.

Set to an unbeatable soul music soundtrack with a roll-call of hits from the 60s, this uplifting story stars Australian screen icons Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy with newcomers Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell as the formidable four along with Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) as their manager. Many of the cast and crew will be guests of the Festival on Opening Night, making for a spectacular red carpet event.

“I can’t think of anything more perfect than The Sapphires having its Australian Premiere as the opening night film of the Melbourne International Film Festival. 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,” said filmmaker Wayne Blair.

The Sapphires marks the first of 18 days for MIFF, which includes well over 300 films from around the globe. Festival programs include world-class cinema in International Panorama, Documentaries, Accent on Asia, Backbeat and Animation.

A selection of films will be announced in First Glance on 5th June and full program details, including Closing Night, will be announced on 11th July. Tickets go on sale 13th July. The Festival runs 2 – 19 August 2012. The Opening Night event will take place on Thursday 2nd August at Greater Union with tickets on sale now.

German luxury carmaker Audi is proud to be the major sponsor of the Melbourne International Film Festival Opening Night celebration.

Audi has long been involved in film. Its high performance sports cars have appeared in heart-stopping car chases (Ronin, Mission Impossible II and the Transporter movies) and futuristic concept films (I, Robot). It is the red carpet limousine of choice for opening nights and major film premieres.

Managing Director Uwe Hagen said “As a sophisticated and progressive brand, Audi is a strong supporter of film festivals in Australia and values the opportunity to give back to the community through the support of major cultural events. The partnership between MIFF and Audi is founded on a mutual respect for heritage and a focus on innovation.”

Audi is proud to present an Opening Night that is certain to delight film fans and support the local film industry in Australia.

Source: Melbourne International Film Festival press release

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