Wide Open Sky
Wide Open Sky is a documentary film set in rural New South Wales. It follows Michelle Leonard, a choir instructor, as she auditions thousands children for her Moorambilla Voices Regional Choir. As a feel-good family film, Wide Open Sky can’t help but instill an overwhelming feeling of hope. At the same time, it also teaches an invaluable lesson — “In order for children to believe in themselves, they first need someone to believe in them.”
The documentary crew travel alongside Michelle as she completes one of her annual trips to rural NSW. Each year, she drives more than 4,000 kilometres to some of the most disadvantaged and remote towns in Australia, to find students for her choir’s regional competition. Her goal is to open the minds of children in these remote areas, and, through her music, give them hope and ambition. The film also briefly touches on the journey of four of her primary-school-aged children (Opal, Mack, Kynan and Taylah). With the help of Michelle and her music, these kids learn that they are more capable of anything than they ever imagined.
The purpose of this documentary is to not only track the selfless acts of Michelle Leonard and her team, but also to tell a story about the ‘hidden’ country families that have been left behind by modern society. Children growing up in remote parts of Australia have few opportunities to advance their lives, and often do not get exposed to what else is possible. Their world centres around the local pie store and footy team. In one poignant scene, the children revel at seeing a toiletry bag for the first time. Another moving highlight is the cinematography of children playing on empty roads in dry, red earth.
The outback setting provides a powerful sense of isolation, but Michelle’s optimism and drive cuts through this with determination. As the audience, we see the children awakening to the possibilities of life. Their stunning choral repertoire truly shows that anything is in reach with enough focus and motivation.
Overall, the feeling we are left with after watching Wide Open Sky is positivity. It would have been nice to see more of the four children, and their pathways in life after the choir competition. Nonetheless, it’s clear that Michelle’s efforts have made an incredible impact. Not just in the lives of those four children, but in the hundreds of lives she has mentored and changed each year. Each of us is born with the gift of music — it can just take a little practice and teaching to hear it.
What does the Bible say about helping the disadvantaged? Luke 3:11
What does the Bible say about the power of music? Psalm 135:3