Wide Open SkyApril 14, 2016
It would be a shame not to mention a new Australian documentary released this week. Lisa Nicol’s Wide Open Sky, follows the indomitable Michelle Leonard, as she rounds up country children to take part in her annual choir project, the Moorambilla Voices. It’s a completely hands-on activity that sees Leonard not only conducting the choir, but driving over 4,000 kms every year across New South Wales to find and audition promising talent. Back in her office she raises funds and does the paperwork, in a gruelling labour of love.
What makes this film so special is the close-up portraits of children from places such as Brewarrina, Walgett, Cobar and Lightning Ridge. These country kids are bright and ambitious. The Moorambilla Voices offers a first glimpse of a world outside of their small towns, and a sense of burgeoning possibility. The most startling is Mack, an 11-year-old from Lightning Ridge, with an unfashionable love of music and dance. Mack has real focus, but every child exudes a positivity that makes one realise how much we lose as we grow older. It’s easy to see why Michelle Leonard comes back year after year.
Wide Open Sky
Written & directed by Lisa Nicol
Starring Michelle Leonard & country kids
Australia, rated G, 78 mins
Published in the Australian Financial Review, Saturday 16th April, 2016.