Screen Australia have announced that The Nightingale, Jennifer Kent’s much-anticipated second feature following modern horror classic The Babadook, will have its world premiere in competition at the 75th Venice International Film Festival this August. The film joins recent Australian Venice faves Sweet Country, Hacksaw Ridge, Boys in the Trees, Tanna, and Hounds of Love, which were also feted at the festival.
Also screening in competition are two VR short films:Michael Beets’ The Unknown Patient, which tells the true story of an Australian soldier found wandering in London with no memory of his identity; and Lynette Wallworth’s Awavena, which allows the viewer access to the spirit realm as seen by an elder of the Indigenous Amazonian people.
Set in Tasmania in 1825, The Nightingale follows Clare (Aisling Franciosi) , a young Irish convict woman, who chases a British officer (Sam Claflin) through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
The film was produced by Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films and Bruna Papandrea and Steve Hutensky of Made Up Stories.
“It’s been four years since Jennifer Kent astounded audiences with The Babadook, so The Nightingale’s selection for Venice marks a triumphant and eagerly anticipated return for this Australian auteur,” said Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia. “We are thrilled to have been able to support Jennifer’s vision from development, to production, now at festival and soon distribution.
“Congratulations also to The Nightingale’s producers Causeway Films and Made Up Stories who have so carefully and lovingly shepherded this Australian tale to this incredible juncture.”
Director Jennifer Kent was elated, saying, “It’s a dream come true to be premiering The Nightingale at Venice in official competition. I owe a great deal to my exceptional cast and crew, who were wholeheartedly devoted to making this film the very best it could be. Thanks to all our investors for allowing me to make the film I set out to
make. And a huge thanks to Uncle Jim Everett. Without his guidance and support, along with the help we received from many Tasmanian Aboriginal people, this film would quite simply not exist.”
The Australian contingent joins an impressive slate of films that will screen at this year’s festival, which runs from August 29 to September 8, including Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, the Coen Brothers series-turned-anthology-movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Bradley Cooper’s directorial effort A Star is Born, Western adaptation The Sisters Brothers, and many more.