New film from 'Babadook' director causes walk outs and audience members shouting at the screen

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale (Credit: IFC Films)

The new movie from director Jennifer Kent - who made feted indie horror The Babadook - has caused furious cinema-goers to walk out, and some to shout out during the screening.

The Nightingale is a violent thriller set in colonial Tasmania, with 26-year-old Irish actress Aisling Franciosi playing a young convict who encounters the brutal violence of a British officer, played by Hunger Games star Sam Claflin.

Franciosi sees her husband and infant child murdered by Claflin's character and his cronies, leading her to seek revenge.

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The movie was debuted at the Sydney Film Festival on Sunday, but caused a furious reaction among some members of the audience.

According to ABC News, one woman walked out of the film early on, and was heard to shout: “I'm not watching this. She's already been raped twice.”

Several others also reportedly walked out of another screening of the film on Monday.

Kent, who also wrote the movie and has worked with the likes of Lars Von Trier, shot to fame with The Babadook in 2014, her low-budget directorial debut.

Aisling Franciosi, left and director Jennifer Kent pose for a portrait to promote the film The Nightingale. (Credit: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

In a Q&A session after last night's screening, she reportedly admitted that the film is 'a difficult watch'.

However, she added that it was important to shed light on this area of history.

“My commitment to cinema is just to make people feel something,” she said. “Even if that's anger at me or the situation.”

In a statement to ABC, she said: “Whilst The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our Indigenous people, the film is not 'about' violence.

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“It's about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times. Both [producer] Aisling Franciosi and myself have been personally contacted by more than a few victims of sexual violence after screenings who are grateful for the film's honesty and who have drawn comfort from its themes.

“I do not believe this would be happening if the film was at all gratuitous or exploitative. 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.”

It's due for release later this summer.