By Peter Knegt | Indiewire May 15, 2012 at 12:5PM
The Weinstein Company has picked up Wayne Blair's "The Sapphires," the Australian film set to screen in Cannes later this Saturday.
Based on a true story, the film depicts four Australian Aboriginal girls who formed all girl group The Sapphires in the 1960s. It was written by Aboriginal playwright Tony Briggs -- whose mother and family members were part of The Sapphires group -- and stars "Bridesmaids" breakout Chris O'Dowd as the band's manager.
The announcement was made today by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein, COO David Glasser, and Co-SVPs of Acquisitions Negeen Yazdi and Dan Guando.
Full press release below.
May 15, 2012 – New York, NY – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired from Goalpost Film worldwide rights, with the exception of the UK & Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Israel, Portugal and airlines, to THE SAPPHIRES. The film, directed by acclaimed Aboriginal actor and theater director Wayne Blair, stars funnyman Chris O'Dowd (BRIDESMAIDS, FRIENDS WITH KIDS), Deborah Mailman (RADIANCE, OFFSPRING), who was the first Aboriginal actress to win the AFI Award for Best Actress, Jessica Mauboy (BRAN NUE DAE), an Australian pop artist who was the runner-up on Australian Idol in 2006 and breakout stars Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell. The screenplay was written by Aboriginal playwright Tony Briggs, whose mother and family members were part of The Sapphires group, and Keith Thompson. Warwick Thornton, previous winner of the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for SAMSON AND DELILAH, is the film’s Director of Photography. The announcement was made today by TWC Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein, COO David Glasser, and Co-SVPs of Acquisitions Negeen Yazdi and Dan Guando.
Inspired by a true story, THE SAPPHIRES follows four vivacious, young and talented Australian Aboriginal girls from a remote mission as they learn about love, friendship and war when their all girl group The Sapphires entertains the U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. Cynthia (Tapsell), Gail (Mailman), Julie (Mauboy) and Kay (Sebbens) are discovered by Dave (O’Dowd), a good-humored talent scout with a kind heart, very little rhythm but a great knowledge of soul music. As their manager, Dave books the sisters their first true gig giving them their first taste of stardom, and travels them to Vietnam to sing for the American troops.
The film has been chosen as an Official Selection for the 65th Cannes Film Festival and will play on May 19th, which is the first Saturday of the festival.
“THE SAPPHIRES is a rare and special film, and all of us on director Wayne Blair’s team are thrilled to be working with The Weinstein Company which we know will be the very best home for this film,” said Goalpost Film’s Tristan Whalley.
Added Goalpost Pictures’ Rosemary Blight, “Passionate, innovative and creative marketing and distribution is what independent films require to reach an audience. The Weinstein Company is one of the most talented distributors of independent films in the world, and we are thrilled that THE SAPPHIRES is in such great hands. It is a wonderful acknowledgement of the extraordinary work of the cast and crew led so magnificently by director Wayne Blair.”
Said Weinstein, “These girls light up the screen as much as their music lights up the stage. We’re thrilled to bring the stories and music from these sisters to audiences all over the world.”
Added Guando and Yazdi, “Wayne Blair tells this story in the most charming way by capturing the excitement, heartbreak and joy these girls experienced on their incredible journey. This is a very real, entertaining and touching story with a stellar cast and an incredible soundtrack. We’ve been passionate about this project since the day we read the script, and have always felt that it would be a perfect fit for The Weinstein Company.”
Produced by Blight and Kylie du Fresne, THE SAPPHIRES is a Goalpost Pictures Australia production.
On behalf of TWC, the deal was negotiated by Glasser, Yazdi and Michal Steinberg, TWC SVP of Acquisitions and Business Affairs.
Whalley and Blight negotiated on behalf of Goalpost, and Christos Michaels and Nicki Parfitt on behalf of Lee and Thompson.