By Kate Rodger
Australian movie The Sapphires has been entertaining Kiwi audiences over the weekend, after kickstarting its global release with a standing ovation at Cannes.
It stars former Australian Idol runner-up Jessica Mauboy, who's now a chart-topping singer in her own right and has just added "actor" to her CV.
“Everyone stood up,” says Mauboy. “It was a 10-minute standing ovation and I’m looking at Deborah Mailman, tears about to drop. It was all very overwhelming.”
Mauboy is clearly still a little overwhelmed by the reaction to The Sapphires at the Cannes Film Festival, and given she really is the star, she has plenty to be proud of.
She plays one of a group of aboriginal sisters who get plucked from Outback Australia by a mostly drunk Irish manager. He teaches them to sing soul for the troops in Vietnam.
But along with all the music and comedy, the film deals with the stolen generations and Australia’s treatment of their indigenous population.
“We never spoke of any of the issues and this is what this film does beautifully,” says Mauboy. “It doesn't really blame anyone. It doesn't point the finger at anyone. But it generally says this is what happened and we want to celebrate it and educate you on this story.”
Making this film had a profound affect on Mauboy, and ultimately her entire family.
“My mother was never stolen but she never grew up with her culture and her mother died when she was young. It was only just after doing this film we were really inspired to go out and find our family and we only just reunited this year. So it was just really beautiful to end a year with a beautiful ending, really.”
It is beautiful definitely, but The Sapphires’ journey is far from over. Hollywood powerbroker Harvey Weinstein has already nabbed the distribution rights for the film, with awards season right around the corner.