Filmed in Tasmania and starring Sam Clafin of The Hunger Games, The Nightingale is a rape-revenge story centred on a young Irish convict woman Claire, played by Italian actress Aisling Franciosi, pictured, who chases a British officer and his band of cronies through the rugged bush with the help of an indigenous guide.
The independent film directed by Jennifer Kent, was screened as part of the Sydney Film Festival last night to a sold-out audience of more than 1,000 people at the Ritz cinema.
According to ABC News, one woman walked out of the film early on, and was heard to shout: "I'm not watching this".
IndieWire shared the news that Kent brought the film to the Sydney Film Festival and numerous audience members walked out of the premiere because of the film's multiple brutal rape scenes in its first 30 minutes. "I completely understand that, and I would protect people's right to make that decision", Kent said. Apparently, in another scene, Claire's husband and infant daughter are forced to watch her be the victim of a sexual assault.
"It is a cauldron of blood, murders, and rapes so unflinching in vividness and brutality as to make it impossible to go through its 136 minutes without ever turning away from the screen, let alone to come out of it untouched", Leonardo Goi wrote of the film past year when it debuted at the Venice Film Festival.
She added that she ensured that her cast was able to cope with the psychological toll of filming such intense scenes.
"I will forever be fiercely proud of Jennifer Kent and of this film", she tweeted yesterday.
"Whilst The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our Indigenous people, the film is not "about" violence", she said.
I'm not sure if any movie can justify two graphic rape scenes in one movie, even if it is meant to be historical accuracy. It's about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times.
Kent said the filmmakers had received "more than a few" positive messages from survivors of sexual violence. I do not believe this would be happening if the film was at all gratuitous or exploitative. Kent has stated that she made this movie " in collaboration with Tasmanian Aboriginal elders, and they feel it's an honest and necessary depiction of their history and a story that needs to be told", so I'm hoping that we will be hearing reviews from people in those communities especially.
As the film unfolds, the main protagonist is raped over and over again by various attackers.
"The Nightingale" is set to be released in Australian cinemas August 29th.