THE SAPPHIRES WIN GOLD.
Olympics-shmalypics. Let’s be honest, whilst we all love the games and our rediscovered passion for our country (previously found, then lost again, 4 years ago), this Olympics are all about the Silver Medal. And there is no shame in that. We are frequently becoming the second best in the world. No easy feat by any means. But last night, last night right here in Melbourne Town, little ol’ Australia won GOLD.
It was opening night for the Melbourne International Film Festival and it was spectacular. The red carpet rolled out and the clear skies rolled in to welcome a barrage of who’s who in Australian talent. Spotted amongst the crowd was Geoffrey Rush; ambassador for MIFF and as awe-inspiring in the flesh as in film, Cathy Freeman, Straughnie, Chris Lilley (comic genius, soooo wanted a happy snap but stayed polite), cast members from Winners & Losers/Packed to the Rafters/Underbelly, Matt Preston, and of course the stars of the opening show; Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell and many more! These gorgeous and super-talented ladies make up ‘The Sapphires’, a film based on the story of four indigenous soul sisters who entertained the troops in Vietnam back in the 60′s, and were heralded as Australia’s answer to ‘The Supremes’.
The film opened with a ‘welcome to country’ by the local indigenous Aunts. It was beautiful and fitting. The speeches after this dragged on a little considering the late start time but once we finally got to the last one, Director Wayne Blair’s infectious enthusiasm got the crowd back on board. The Sapphires is a brilliant piece of Australian film. It makes you proud to be an Aussie and is a long overdue reminder of the importance and relevance of our indigenous history. It’s nice to reflect on this history in a light-hearted way because traditionally we have had a ‘go hard or go home’ approach, neither effective. The cultural element to this film touches on issues that are occasionally serious, often humorous, and always honest. The performances are….amazing. Jessica Mauboy is an absolute diva, as in the outstanding female singer variety. Deborah Mailman is best on ground in the acting department but that’s old news, we’ve all loved her work for over a decade now. I still can’t believe she is 40. Shari Sebbens is absolutely stunning and even more so in real life. And Miranda Tapsell and Chris O’Dowd (yes another comic gem) inject flawless enticement for laughter at regular intervals. Sure, there are flaws with this film. It is no Titanic and Blair is not 40 films deep. There are snippets of over the top war shots that attempt to set the mood but instead look like something out of Tropic Thunder. And some of the acting and dialogue border cheesy/cringe. But these moments are far and few between. If this is Blair’s first go at a full length feature film, I’ve already brought my tickets to his next one. Do yourself and your country a favour, and book your tickets to see this on the big screen. At least that way when your Olympic spirit wears off, you can still plead Aussie pride for a little while longer.
Well this is a nice change isn’t it? Normally I would have touched briefly on the movie and ranted incoherently about the after party. But as we all know, I am sporting a broken foot so my party pants have been cropped somewhat. I stupidly left my crutches at home due to extreme wardrobe clashes so my foot soon swelled up like a balloon after a few cocktails. This deadly dance floor diva had to see her ass back home for some horizontal times. Shame because, the Plaza Ballroom at The Regent Theatre is absolutely stunning and was backed floor to ceiling with the beautiful, the famous, the talented and the all out free cocktail crowd. Not to say that I didn’t give it a go, 1am ain’t too bad I suppose. Jessica Mauboy gave a great live performance at the afters, that girl has got some serious vocal chords. Though, the ultimate highlight was when her three co-stars joined her onstage for one final song. They were as good in real life as they were in the movie. No auto-tune here kids just raw talent. What a night!
The First Casualty xx
Photos: Wesley Baigent