In this remote corner of the state, footy is king and music education is rare as rain. Determined to see the children reach their potential, Moorambilla Voices’ passionate and driven choir director, Michelle Leonard, strives to open up their world through music.
“Hearing the children sing and tell their stories was a defining moment,” says writer and director, Lisa Nicol. “I realized this was a film about children and growing up as much as it was a film about a choir and an extraordinary woman.
“It was about the challenges we’ve all faced as we struggled to find out who we are, to believe in ourselves and find acceptance. It was a story about the fragile world of possibility that is childhood. And a stark reminder that no child, anywhere, should grow up with out music.”
“Hearing the children’s stories, their hopes and fears was intensely moving. One of my greatest aspirations for this film was to let them speak for themselves,” Nicol added.
Wide Open Sky takes us into the lives of Kyh, Mack, Opal and Taylah, four brave and hopeful primary school children who travel far from home to music camp to prepare for the choir’s big concert. They have just three days to learn a demanding repertoire.
Set against a stunning landscape and featuring music by acclaimed band Dirty Three, Wide Open Sky is a funny, heartwarming snapshot of childhood in rural Australia. These little voices have big dreams, and the choir offers them the chance of a lifetime.
Moorambilla Voices is a not-for-profit multi-arts program inspiring the children of rural and remote communities in North West NSW. At its heart are two primary school choirs and a secondary school ensemble that work with leading arts organisations from around Australia to deliver a unique performing arts experience.
Lisa Nicol is a writer and documentary-maker. She established Round The Outside Productions to produce her own films with long-time friends and collaborators Anna Craney and Carolyn Constantine. With music at the heart of most of their work, Wide Open Sky is their first feature-length documentary. It follows A Night At Sea – about legendary underground musician Louis Tillett.
Working across film, television, radio and print, Lisa’s work has been broadcast on ABC TV, pay TV networks and Radio National. Her documentary about Australian poet Benjamin Frater won a Silver medal at the 2012 New York Festivals International Radio Program and Promotions Awards. She has been published by all the major Australian broadsheets. Her first book The Ballad of Dexi Lee was published in 2013.
Wide Open Sky is now screening in selected cinemas nationally. For more information, visit: www.wideopenskymovie.com for details, or checkout the trailer below.
Image: Mack on the roof in Wide Open Sky (supplied)