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Decency is often much harder to swing than heroism or conventional success. And to keep plugging away at it without recognition or reward is not just awe-inspiring but truly humbling. “Oranges and Sunshine” highlights such an act of decency.

Directed by Jim Loach, it lays bare the facts of a virtually unknown government-engineered atrocity: From the late 19th century to 1970, Britain migrated tens of thousands of children to Australia and other countries to use as cheap labor. These children, promised year-round sunshine and oranges to pick off the trees for breakfast, were told by authorities that their mothers were dead and they had nowhere else to go but across the ocean. Once in Australia they were placed in institutions, most of them Catholic or Christian. Many were physically or sexually abused. All were made to engage in heavy labor for little or no pay.

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