Wide Open Sky

DOCUMENTARY; 1hr 27min

DIRECTED BY: Lisa Nichol

A musical gem: Leonard and her Voices

Every March since 2000, the Moorambilla Voices regional choir’s director, Michelle Leonard, drives 4000-plus kilometres through underprivileged northwest New South Wales to audition some 2000, inexperienced, primary-school children, 130 of whom will perform current, challenging Australian works at a concert in Coonamble. Michelle, who is as tirelessly vital as you'd imagine, is looking for kids ripe for self-expression, and does she ever find them.


Focusing on four recruits — Kyhnan, Mack, Opal and Taylah — writer-director Nichols follows their progress through the crucible of three-day choir boot camp to the heat of a spotlight that opens their eyes to the people they could become. For her vital part, Michelle attended Coonamble High and has the bush in her bones. She's magic in perpetual motion with her rough diamonds, knowing just when to push and when to praise; her innate judgment mirrored by sensitive direction that allows the kids to open up. To Michelle, it all comes down to the transfiguring power of music. "Part of what we're doing here is saying, 'Life is full of possibilities. Go. Go — take it.' "