Jennifer Kent has been forced to defend some confronting scenes of rape in her latest film The Nightingale, after fans stormed out of cinemas.
The Babadook director wrote and helmed the soon-to-be released film and has insisted the scenes which saw protagonist Claire (Aisling Fanciosi) raped by multiple men was far from gratuitous or exploitative.
The Nightingale, set in 1825 Tasmania in Australia, focuses on the massacres of the lands Indigenous Australians and is framed around the story of former Irish convict Claire and a malevolent master Lieutenant Hawkins (played by Sam Claflin).
However, many fans who saw the film in Australia are said to have stormed out of the cinema before the first 30 minutes was through. According to viewers, the start of the film shows brutal scenes of Claires rape, as the camera frames the characters face and the viewer is forced to watch her pained expression.
Not long after, her husband and baby are killed in front of her – something many audiences members felt was gratuitous.
Addressing media this week, Jennifer said shed been contacted by survivors of sexual violence and felt it wouldnt be the case if the scenes werent appropriate.
Its about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times, she said.
Both Aisling Franciosi and myself have been personally contacted by more than a few victims of sexual violence after screenings who are grateful for the films honesty and who have drawn comfort from its themes.
She added: Whilst The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our Indigenous people, the film is not “about” violence …
Weve made this film in collaboration with Tasmanian Aboriginal elders, and they feel its an honest and necessary depiction of their history and a story that needs to be told. I remain enormously proud of the film.
However, she felt that if the film showed what really happened in Tasmania in 1825 to the Indigenous population, no audience could bear it.