Musical comedy "The Sapphires" sparkles at Aussie Oscars

Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:06am EST
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By Jane Wardell

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Home-grown romantic musical comedy "The Sapphires" shone at Australia's film industry awards on Wednesday, picking up best film and lead acting trophies for Deborah Mailman and "Bridesmaids" star Chris O'Dowd.

Awards host Russell Crowe, an Oscar winner for "Gladiator," led a star-studded evening whose theme was pride in Australia's outsized success on the international film stage.

"The Australian academy may be small but over the years we have won more than 60 BAFTAs and Oscars," said Crowe at the second annual Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts awards, affectionately known as the "Aussie Oscars."

Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Jeffrey Rush were all on hand for the event at Sydney's Star casino, leading guest presenter Jeremy Renner to joke: "You can't throw a bottle out the window in Hollywood without hitting an Australian."

The Sapphires, a possibility for next year's Oscars, tells the story of four women from a remote Aboriginal mission who are catapulted on to the world stage as Australia's answer to the Supremes when a kind-hearted manager, played by O'Dowd, hears their powerful voices and sends them to entertain troops in Vietnam.

"Films find their way because of a certain strength," Kidman told Reuters. "The Sapphires is such a unique story and it's great music and great talent."

Director Wayne Blair's debut film also won for direction, cinematography, editing, best production design, costume design and sound.

Best Young Actor went to Saskia Rosendahl for her role in the Australian-German film "Lore", about a teenage girl who leads her younger siblings across Germany at the end of World War Two. Rosendahl was just 17 when the film was made.   Continued...

Actors (L-R) Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Chris O'Dowd, Shari Sebbens, and Miranda Tapsell, arrives on the red carpet for the gala presentation of the film "The Sapphires" at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, September 9, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch