Oranges and Sunshine is based on the story of Margaret Humphreys, a former social worker from Nottingham who disclosed the scandalous treatment of thousands of children sent to Australia without their parents’ knowledge.
The scandal, discovered in the 1980s, involved more than 130,000 children in care who were deported to Australia and other Commonwealth countries where many suffered systematic abuse in foster homes, state-run orphanages and religious institutions.
The £3 million film, from British director Jim Loach, is to have its world premiere at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea next month. It has been selected for this autumn’s Rome Film Festival.
It stars Emily Watson, the Oscar nominated British actress who starred in Breaking the Waves, Hugo Weaving, the Australian actor who starred in Lord of the Rings and the Marix and another actor well known in Australia, David Wenham.
The film traces her relationship with victims, the authorities and her own family as she battled to expose the injustice.
The filmmakers took eight years to convince her to be involved in the film and became an unofficial adviser to the production. She is pleased with the final result.
"It’s a very faithful interpretation. It is strong in its understatement,” she told The Guardian. Loach told the paper he wants to arrange special screenings for the former child migrants before the film’s general release in the spring.
The child migrant scheme almost invariably involved children from deprived backgrounds who were already in some form of social or charitable care.
Many of the children sent to Australia were told their parents were dead, while their parents were given very little information about where the children were going and many didn’t know they had left the country.
On arrival in Australia, the young migrants were separated from their brothers and sisters and plunged into a life of hardship and brutality.
Former child migrants have told of regular and brutal physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to be caring for them.
In February Gordon Brown issued an official apology to former child migrants who were shipped from Britain.
Mr Brown’s apology came three months after Kevin Rudd, the Australian prime minister, said sorry to the estimated 500,000 children, including Britons, who were held in orphanages and other institutions around that country between 1930 and 1970.