Friday, 19 October 2012

LFF: The Sapphires Gala Report

As Chris O’Dowd and his beautiful female co-stars walked up the blue, sequined carpet at the London Film Festival, it was clear that the night ahead was to be a terrific fun. Before the film actually got screened audiences where party to a showing of young director Nick Pratt’s Summer In The City, the winning entry of Nintendo 3DS: 'A Vision In 3D'. It was a short, well crafted 3D celebration of the very British year gone by.

After the eye-popping 3D, more of what we see on the big screen was to appear right before us as the director and cast of The Sapphires made their way on stage to discuss how they got their role in the film, as well as some history of the play and inspiration behind it. O’Dowd, now used to the red carpets, junkets and premieres was casual and funny but his co-stars were brimming with excitement about the whole event. It was nice to see such passion and gratitude from the female stars, all very humble in what they said about themselves whilst vehemently stressing the fabulousness of the film.

Once the film had finished certain members of the audiences were invited to the after party at Aqua Neuva in Oxford Circus. True to form, O’Dowd was there kindly welcoming and thanking fans as well as graciously embracing all those who wanted an autograph or photo. I spoke to him briefly and thinking he would have already answered an insane amount of questions on The Sapphires, wanted to find out about his new project, Calvary (directed by The Guard’s John Michael McDonagh). His first words on the film were “It’s very, very dark” (Calvary described by the director as a black comedy), whilst mentioning he had actually shot some of it this morning – “you must be tired” I said, “Not with this happening” replied the Gala’s main man. He couldn’t remember when Calvary started shooting, or how much was left, as his TV programme Moone Boy was shot around the same time and had confused his idea of scheduling, but he was excited about each project and how well they were coming along.

As everyone had apparently been welcomed in to the party Jessica Mauboy got on a small stage and belted out a few classic soul songs. After two solo performances she invited up the rest of the Sapphires and Mr. O’Dowd in a performance of “Can’t Help Myself”. Afterwards, the four girls finished with a recital of an aborigine song that nicely mellowed everyone out before the DJ started shuffling through some classic Motown.

As the room filled with people some moved outside onto the cool terrace. Taking in the magnificent view of the London skyline, I found myself standing next to Miranda Tapsell doing the same thing. I congratulated her on the film and the amazing performances, both with acting and singing. She was incredibly genial and spent 10 minutes chatting with me on the experience and reception of the film. “I had always wanted to be part of this project in some way after seeing the play” Tapsell stated. “I still can’t believe all this.” She was very sweet about a new-found stardom but as I asked about new parts being sent in for her she answered, “Well, the film is only a small Australian production. It’s not the same situation as with someone like Jennifer Lawrence who can be in a big Hollywood film like The Hunger Games and immediately be called up after it premieres. I have gone to a few auditions but the film honestly hasn’t had a huge impact just yet. Maybe soon though...” she modestly pondered. I expect her phone won’t stop ringing after this film’s general release.

Inside, Jessica Maulboy stood close to the stage, as if primed to get up once more to sing. Surrounding her were partiers wanting to shake her hand and praise her for part in the film. I got a few moments with her and, like with Tapsell, asked her what was next. “I’m actually working on my third studio album. I mainly work within music and try to act whenever the opportunity arises. That’s why when The Sapphires auditions came about I jumped at the chance – combining two things I love in a story so inspirational”.

Before I left I quickly shook hands with Deborah Mailman and Shari Sebbens, the former answering a quick question on the release of the soundtrack – “Sometime in November, I think. It’s very exciting; I hope it does well” Judging from a few more people asking the same question to Maulboy as I said goodbye, there’s no doubt it will be just as popular as the film.

By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on Blogomatic3000. Review for the film can be found here.

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