'The Sapphires': Australia's Feel-Good Musical Sweeps Awards

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Jessica Mauboy, an actress in "The Sapphires," which has won many awards in Australia. | Getty Images

SYDNEY — Feel-good musical drama "The Sapphires" sparkled at Australia's premier film awards.

The tale of an Aboriginal family singing group entertaining American troops in the Vietnam War won best film and five other awards at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts ceremony Wednesday night.

Best Lead Actress Deborah Mailman and Best Supporting Actress Jessica Mauboy won for playing sisters in the group. The award for lead actor went to Chris O'Dowd, who played "The Sapphires" talent manager and is perhaps best known for his role as a police officer in the smash comedy "Bridesmaids."

The academy also recognized "The Sapphires" director Wayne Blair and writers, Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs, who adapted the screenplay from Briggs' stage production inspired by his mother's experiences.

"The Sapphires" won 11 awards in all, including technical categories announced earlier. Backstage, Blair said he never thought such a result would be possible, "not in my wildest dreams.

"It just came out of the blue. Out of the 12 nominations I thought we might win you know, one or two, that'd be lovely, that'd be vindication of something," he told Australian Associated Press. "But winning a few more is good, very positive."

Mauboy accepted her award from presenter Nicole Kidman and claimed she felt undeserving of the prize because she had been in the industry for "like a second."

Backstage, she said, "Oh my goodness, accepting the award from Nicole Kidman, it's unexplainable."

Other film winners were Best Supporting Actor Antony Starr and original screenplay writers Kieran Darcy-Smith and Felicity Price for "Wish You Were Here," a thriller set partially in Cambodia.

The awards ceremony host was Russell Crowe and attendees included Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett, and Jeremy Renner.

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