Inspired by a true story, The Sapphires celebrates soul music and chronicles the adversity and struggles faced by a quartet of Australian aboriginal singers in the Vietnam War-era.
The mother and aunt of writer Tony Briggs actually toured wartime Vietnam as singers and the real singing group helped coach the young stars who play the Sapphires.
Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell play the quartet, who are discovered by a young Irishman touring Australia, played by Chris O’Dowd.
Briggs initially wrote a play called The Sapphires, about a Koori girl group who want to sing and end up entertaining U.S. and Australian troops in Vietnam. Wayne Blair, who directs the film version of The Sapphires, was in the cast of the stage production.
In an interview with CBC’s Eli Glasner, O’Dowd talks about how an aboriginal group end up singing soul and why the experience of being in Vietnam changed them all.
He and Mailman, who plays the strong-willed Gail, have a tempestuous relationship.
"It was really wonderful being Gail and Dave and having the words, that sort of banter to fight each other and lock heads constantly," Mailman said.
Tapsell reflected on the long journey made by the four women in the feel-good movie.
"The whole film embodies the sacrifices you make for dreams, to find happiness," Tapsell said. "[There are] all the things you've got to do. And finally, when you get there, you will enjoy it. But you've got to learn to enjoy it along the way." The Sapphires opens across Canada on Friday.