Oranges and Sunshine

Vernon Film Society Director: Jim Loach
Cast: Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham
Run Time: 105 minutes
Country: United Kingdom/Australia
Year: 2011
Language: English
Rating: PG (Coarse language)

This first feature by UK director Jim Loach (son of acclaimed director Ken Loach) is a heart-wrenching drama based on one woman’s real-life crusade to help displaced adults - forcefully separated from their families as children - discover their true identities. An official selection of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, this poignant work of storytelling has received worldwide critical acclaim.

Set in the 1980s, a social worker from Nottingham named Margaret Humphreys (Emily Watson, Punch Drunk Love, Gosford Park) stumbles upon a shocking revelation that spans countries, governments and generations. She learns that thousands of children in the care of British Social Services were illegally and silently deported from the United Kingdom to Australia in the 1940s. Many of these children were removed from the care of single mothers or homes that were deemed “unfit,” and told that their parents were dead. They were then shipped across the ocean with the promise of “oranges and sunshine” only to be abandoned in church-run orphanages where they were neglected, forced into hard labour, and brutally abused.

Margaret advocates for the victims of this atrocity of justice with unflinching resolve, courage and integrity. She travels to Australia and works closely with these deeply scarred individuals, helping them to find the answers that they so desperately seek. She also works to reunite what’s left of their geographically dispersed families, at times at the expense of her own. Through a fury of media attention, Margaret tells the stories of the victims to the world. She serves as a voice for those too ashamed to speak out and perhaps most importantly, she feels for those who are too numb to feel the pain for themselves. As the media attention grows and a government inquiry is opened, Margaret begins to face harassment and death threats from those accused, yet she unflinchingly continues to champion the cause.

The film’s tone is subtle and restrained, dealing with explicit accounts of abuse and raw emotions without sensationalizing the story through graphic flashbacks. This subtlety extends to the film’s unsaturated aesthetic, understated score and measured performances. Watson gives a deeply nuanced portrayal of Margaret laden with compassionate solemnity. Oranges and Sunshineis a beautiful meditation on a very ugly part of Commonwealth history.

" Like his father, Loach has made a film uncluttered by an obvious director’s stamp, peopled by sympathetic characters and driven by a desire to say something about the world without losing sight of the human experience. " – Dave Calhoun, Time Out


Official Website and trailer:

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