Deborah Mailman and Jessica Mauboy are set to star in musical feature The Sapphires, which begins filming in Sydney and Vietnam next month.

The film is an adaptation of the stage musical, set in 1968 when four talented singers from a remote Aboriginal mission are discovered by an unlikely talent scout. Plucked from obscurity and branded as Australia’s answer to The Supremes, The Sapphires grasp the chance of a lifetime when they’re offered their first real gig – entertaining the troops in Vietnam.

The story is adapted for the screen by Keith Thompson (Clubland) and playwright Tony Briggs, whose mother and family inspired the original story.

The Sapphires will be directed by actor and theatre director Wayne Blair and produced by Goalpost Pictures Australia’s Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne. The film will be distributed locally by Hopscotch Films, which was recently acquired by global distributor Entertainment One, and sold internationally by Goalpost Film UK.

Hopscotch Films managing director Troy Lum said the company is tremendously excited to be the Australian and New Zealand distributor.

The Sapphires has it all – a great story with lots of love and laugher, set against the backdrop of the social upheaval of the late 1960’s, a wonderful cast and crew and an unbeatable soul music soundtrack," he said in a statement.

Deborah Mailman was the first Aboriginal actress to win the AFI Award for Best Actress and has appeared in films such as Radiance and Rabbit-Proof Fence, and TV series such as Offspring and The Secret Life of Us.

Jessica Mauboy was runner-up in the 2006 Australian Idol series and has released three albums. Her first feature film appearance was alongside Mailman in 2009 Australian musical Bran Nue Dae.

The Sapphires will also star newcomers Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell, who are both graduates of NIDA.

The director of The Sapphires, Wayne Blair, won an Australian Writers Guild Award for his work on TV series The Circuit and has directed theatre productions including The Removalists and Romeo and Juliet for the Sydney Theatre Company and Reuben Guthrie and Jesus Hopped the A Train for Belvoir St Theatre.

Goalpost Pictures has produced his short films The Djarns Djarns (winner of the Crystal Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival) and Black Talk (winner of the Dendy Award for Best Fiction under 15 Minutes at The Sydney Film Festival).

The Sapphires has been supported by Screen Australia, Screen NSW, the Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund and E-Film Australia.

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  1. It’s an inspiration for these 4 beautiful women to give us,all indigineous people hope and strength to achieve that we can gain even further in society and the world. Remembering in the 60’s life was completely different back then.

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