Actress Aisling Franciosi says she is "proudly proud" of The Nightingale and its Australian director in the wake of the controversial Australian premiere in Sydney this week.
- The film has been widely praised by critics both in Australia and abroad.
- His raw account of Australia's colonial past makes for uncomfortable viewing
- Franciosi took social media to defend The Nightingale
Dozens of people came out of theaters on Sunday and Monday, when the film in Tasmania was screened as part of the Sydney Film Festival.
The Nightingale includes several brutal scenes of rape and graphic murders that director Jennifer Kent maintains essential to keep her film historically accurate.
Franciosi plays the Irish protagonist of Kent, Clare, and she defended the film after its debut in Australia.
"I'll always be proud of Jennifer Kent and this movie," she tweeted yesterday.
"Unabashed honesty and truth."
Later, she posted on her Instagram account that: "The industry's dual standards are alive and well."
Franciosi's character bears the brunt of the sexual assaults in the film.
At Sydney's premiere Sunday at the Ritz cinema in Randwick, a woman left during the early stages, shouting, "I'm not seeing this. She's been raped twice."
Australian director Jennifer Kent faced controversy over The Nightingale. (AAP / Joel Carrett)
The film was praised at the international festival circuit, winning the jury's special award and best young actor for Baykali Ganambarr at the Venice Film Festival last year where it was the only film by a female director in the competition.
But his inclusion in Venice was not without controversy, with an Italian film critic questioning Kent during a screening shouting, "Shame on you, prostitute, you're disgusting."
Critics supported the film, with Variety describing it as a "mass of films without equal."
In a statement to ABC, Kent said the film was praised by survivors of sexual assault.
"While the Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism toward our indigenous peoples, the film is not about violence," she said.
"It's about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times.
"Both [producer] Aisling Franciosi and I were personally contacted by more than a few victims of sexual violence after shows that are grateful for the honesty of the film and have taken comfort from their themes.
"I do not believe this would be happening if the movie were either free or exploitative.
"We made this film in collaboration with the Aboriginal elders of Tasmania, and they feel it is an honest and necessary representation of their history and a story that needs to be told.
"I remain immensely proud of the film."
Sydney Film Festival director Nashen Moodley said she was excited to present the film "powerful and uncompromising" and pointed out that the vast majority of the public did not give up.
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