Three Australian Films Have Been Selected for the Venice Film Festival

Three films have been selected as part of the 75th Venice International Film Festival program, which will run from 29 August to 8 September, 2018.

The three films selected include Jennifer Kent’s (The Babadook) highly anticipated second feature film The Nightingale, alongside two virtual reality films The Unknown Patient and Awaneva.

Director Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale is set to have its world premiere at the festival, marking Kent’s return to filmmaking four years after her debut film Babadook. Produced by Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea and Steve Hutensky, the film will centre around a young Irish convict woman in the 19th century as she chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness for vengeance against the horrific acts of violence he had committed against her family.

“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.”

Jennifer Kent also commented on the news, 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.”

VR film The Unknown Patient is based on the true story of an Australian soldier wandering in London with no memory of his identity. Taking place in real time, viewers will interact with past memories as they unravel the psyche of soldiers during the First World War. Written and directed by Michael Beets and produced by Bethany Jones and Katy Morrison, The Unknown Patient looks to cement virtual reality films as a staple of inventive cinema.

The second selected VR film Awavena created by an Australian-US filmmaking team tell a world story centred around the spirit realm seen by an elder of the Indigenous Amazonian people. Directed by Lynette Wallworth (Collisions), it should also be noted that the film is produced by an all-female team of Nicole Newnham, Lynette Wallworth, and co-producers Tashka Yawanawa and Laura Yawanawa.

Wallworth commented on the film’s selection, saying “It is gratifying to see eminent film festivals inviting the swiftly developing form of VR into competition. Awavena has an incredibly powerful story at its heart; a crucially relevant narrative of Indigenous cultural revival in the Brazilian Amazon, arising from female empowerment. The Awavena story is essentially being gifted to the world by the Yawanawa people via technologies they perceived could best represent their unique world view. It’s been a joy to make and we can’t wait for it to be experienced in Venice.”

Australia has had popular past at the Venice International Film Festival, with films such as Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country receiving rave reviews last year while taking home the Special Jury Prize. We would like to wish the best of luck to all three Australian films selected.