They are women. They are indigenous. And they are the stars of this movie.

By ROSIE WATERLAND

Remember that awesome Australian movie The Sapphires? You know the one I mean – about that white dude who has four slightly tanned back-up singers? The standout star was Chris O’Dowd? Some skinny Aussie girls were in it?

No?

Allow me to refresh your memory:

the-sapphires-american-version

Remember that movie? Yeah – me either. But that’s the DVD cover about to be released across the USA and Canada.

I do remember an awesome film about an Australian indigenous girl-group who performed for the troops in Vietnam, while exploring issues of race, identity, love and relationships. I do remember Chris O’Dowd being fabulous in his role of manager as one part of an ensemble cast in which the incredible indigenous women were the stand-outs.

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Am I crazy, or did the person who designed that cover see a different film to me?

This is the movie I watched:

the-sapphires-australian-version

Why not use that cover?

Yeah yeah – I get that Chris O’Dowd has a bit of a name in the US and the distributor, Anchor Bay, is just trying to sell as many copies as possible. But Muriel’s Wedding was huge in the US and that was advertised off the back of an image of a then-unknown Toni Collette’s face. Shine used a then-unknown Geoffrey Rush.

But there’s more going on here than simply using a recognisable name to sell more DVDs.

The negative implications of making a film about black women look like it’s about a white man should outweigh any marketing concerns. This film is not only about women, it’s about Indigenous women. That fact deserves to be celebrated.

Hiding those women and the colour of their skin under a veil of blue in a ridiculously photoshopped background – behind a man – is absurd.

The actresses’ names are Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Sharri Sebens and Miranda Tapsell. They are women. They are indigenous. And they are the stars of this movie.

That should be a selling point, not something pushed into the background.

UPDATE:

Not only did Chris O’Dowd tweet this about the US cover:

A petition has also been created to compel Anchor Bay to change the cover to reflect the Indigenous women the film is about. Click here to sign.

UPDATE:

Distributor Anchor Bay have released a short statement saying it “regrets any unintentional upset caused by the upcoming US DVD release of The Sapphires,” and that “new cover art is being considered for future replenishment orders”.

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