Horrified viewers reportedly ‘walked out’ of a screening of The Nightingale at the Sydney Film Festival last week.
News Corp claimed that the majority of the audience at The Ritz in Randwick felt the historical drama went too far with its graphic rape scenes, and left within the first 20 minutes.
However the film’s director Jennifer Kent has come out in defence, telling Daily Mail Australia that she remains ‘enormously proud’.
‘I remain enormously proud’: Director Jennifer Kent (pictured) has defended her film The Nightingale, after some viewers were horrified by graphic rape scenes and violence towards babies and children
‘While The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our indigenous people, the film is not ‘about violence’,’ Jennifer said in a statement.
‘It’s about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times. Both Aisling Franciosi (the lead star) and myself have been personally contacted by more than a few victims of sexual violence after screenings.
‘(They are) grateful for the film’s honesty (and) have drawn comfort from its themes.’
Jennifer continued: ‘I do not believe this would be happening if the film was at all gratuitous or exploitative.
Jennifer told Daily Mail Australia: ‘(The film is) about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times’
‘We’ve made this film 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. I remain enormously proud of the film.’
Set in 1825, The Nightingale follows 21-year-old Irish convict Clare – played by Aisling Franciosi – who seeks revenge after violence is committed against her family.
During the opening 20 minutes of the film, Clare is graphically gang raped by a number of men.
And some in the shocked audience could not contain their rage, with one woman screaming: ‘She’s already been raped, we don’t need to see it again,’ according to News.com.au.
Further scenes showed extreme violence inflicted on babies and young children, as well as zoomed-in footage of rape and torture.
Some reviewers have criticised the brutal footage, with Johnny Oleksinski saying it ‘will make you nauseous’.
Extreme cinema: Some viewers reportedly ‘walked out’ of a screening of The Nightingale at the Sydney Film Festival last week. Pictured: Aisling Franciosi
He wrote in the New York Post: ‘Vacuum-packing a non-stop supply of rapes, deaths and beatings into more than two hours is needlessly punishing and comes at the expense of character and story.
‘Constantly having to shield your eyes from horrible imagery – as the Sundance audience was – would seem to defy the whole point of watching a movie.’
‘Kent subjects us to a disturbing frequency of rape scenes to the extent that it soon stops feeling like a jolt of brutal honesty and quickly becomes indulgent.’
He added: ‘If we weren’t aware of the historical atrocities committed by British soldiers across the colonies already, we certainly are by the fourth rape scene. What, then, of the fifth or the sixth?’
While the scenes prompted some people to walk out of the Sydney Film Festival premiere, others found it to be compelling viewing.
Historical drama: Set in 1825, The Nightingale follows 21-year-old Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi), who seeks revenge after violence is committed against her family
‘The Nightingale is essential Australian viewing,’ one person wrote on Twitter. ‘Breathless. Jennifer Kent is one of our great filmmakers.’
Another tweeted: ‘The Nightingale is beautiful but brutal. Some nail-biting scenes, some had me shielding my eyes, and there was even room for comic relief. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a necessary film.’
In an interview with First Showing earlier this year, director Jennifer Kent revealed that production of the film was not easy.
‘It really pushed me to my absolute limits as a human being. Anyone who was on that set will tell you,’ she said.
Jennifer also took care to make sure the cast were coping with the psychological toll of filming such brutal scenes.
If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, you can call 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732 or the Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63
‘Essential Australian viewing’: While the scenes prompted some people to walk out of the premiere, others found it to be compelling viewing