This year’s Venice Film Festival saw the much-anticipated premiere of “The Nightingale,” the second film from director Jennifer Kent following her breakthrough with cult horror film turned phenomenon “The Babadook”.
The film tells the story of a young Irish girl in 1825 who chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge. Said to be full of violent and traumatic imagery, it is the only film in the competition line-up directed by a woman.
The film screened for press last night to an odd reaction. On the one hand, numerous social media posts from those in attendance suggest it’s one of the best films of the festival (and year) though subsequent full reviews have been a bit softer. On the other, there were reports of shocking behavior including crowds apparently cheering or applauding inappropriately at death scenes and a racially motivated bit of violence, while one Italian film blogger reportedly hurled a sexist insult at the screen when the director’s name appeared in the credits.
The festival today has now responded, calling the incident ‘a regrettable fact’ and saying they immediately pulled the offending blogger’s credentials – but wouldn’t name him. The offender has since identified himself in a Facebook post according to THR with the man saying he shouted “Shameful whore, you suck!” and is now taking it back saying it was an in the moment gesture that should be: “condemned for its extremely explicit and offensive nature” but was not a “sexist or misogynistic attack”. He also asks people not to judge all journalists in Italy as sexist for his outburst.
In her press conference today, Kent was asked about the outburst and crowd response to which she replied: “[it’s of] absolute importance to react with compassion and love for ignorance. There is no other option. The film speaks very clearly to that. We see other options played out, and they give no relief. I am very proud of the film and my crew for daring to tell a story that needs to be told in 2018. We are in a very precarious position in the world and qualities that we might see as nice qualities – love, compassion, kindness – they are our lifeline, and if we don’t utilize them, we will all go down the plughole.”