Anchor Bay, the distributor for film “The Sapphires” new DVD came under fire last week after an image surfaced of its U.S. branded DVD cover. Released in 2012, the award-winning film was applauded for its portrayal of The Sapphires–Naomi Mayers, Beverly Briggs, Lois Peeler and Laurel Robinson–and their struggles against sexism and racism in 1960s and 1970s Australia.
The existing DVD cover, intended for Australian audiences, prominently features The Sapphires, played by Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell, with their manager, played by Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, standing behind them. But in the new U.S. cover, the female actors are blurred into a blue background while their manager is thrust center stage.
O’Dowd was among the first to come out against the DVD cover last week, saying via Twitter, “it’s ridiculous, it’s misleading, it’s ill-judged, insensitive and everything the film wasn’t.”
Now, the original Sapphires are also protesting the new cover, and calling on the NAACP for support. In a letter sent on their behalf, they say:
“As I’m sure you can appreciate, the treatment of people of colour in Australia mirrored much of the trauma to which people in the United States were subjected. That trauma — and much of that treatment — remains alive and well in Australia today, as I know it does in the United States.”
In response, activist Lucy Manne began a Change.org petition, which has already garnered more than 10,000 signatures. She hopes Anchor Bay will change the cover artwork before its release this week.