Oranges And Sunshine

Directed by Jim Loach Written by Rona Munro
Screening at FACT Picturehouse from April 2011

Reviewed by Michelle McKay

"Oranges and Sunshine" tells the poignant true story of over 130,000 children who were shipped off to Australia in the post-war era, up to as recently as 1970. They had been in care in the UK but the empirical 'powers that be' sent them half way around the world just like the convicts a century before, and they also serve a life sentence.

Emily Watson is perfectly cast as the sympathetic Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys, who in 1986 was accosted by an antipodean-accented woman desperately searching for any trace of her former life in England (before she was dispatched age four to Australia.) This initial contact uncovered a secret the British and Australian governments had been keeping under wraps for decades, and which they only officially acknowledged and apologised for in 2010. Its never too late to say sorry, but it won't give people back the innocent childhoods they lost.

Margaret's unstinting lifelong quest to reunite the grown-up children in Australia with family members back in the UK, met with mixed results; plus her efforts were not always appreciated by those who had something to hide, but its a story that needed to be told. It demonstrates that sometimes one person can make a difference, and director Jim Loach (son of acclaimed director Ken Loach) shows that with "Oranges And Sunshine" the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

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