Aboriginal girl-group story begins shooting this month in Australia.

Director Wayne Blair has cast Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, garnering much attention in hit Bridesmaids, in Blair’s much-anticipated feature debut The Sapphires.

The Goalpost Pictures Australia production is set in the late 1960s and inspired by the true story of a group of four Aboriginal soul singers from a remote community who travel to Vietnam to entertain the troops. A stage musical has already been made of the story.

O’Dowd plays the talent scout who spots the performers, who are being played by recording star Jessica Mauboy (Bran Nue Dae), Deborah Mailman (Rabbit-Proof Fence) and newcomers Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell.

Blair is best known for this theatre work on and off stage but won the Crystal Bear in Berlin in 2005 for his half-hour film The Djarn Djarns. On The Sapphires he is working with writers Keith Thompson and Tony Briggs – the story is about his mother and her family — producers Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne, and cinematographer Warwick Thornton, whose own feature directorial debut, Samson & Delilah, won the Caméra d’Or prize at Cannes in 2009.

Filming begins this month in Australia and later moves to Vietnam. The finance has come from government agencies Screen Australia and Screen NSW, the Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund, IFS Capital Limited in Singapore, facilities house E-Film Australia and distributor Hopscotch Films.

UK-based sister company Goalpost Film is handling sales.