Aisling Franciosi as Clare in ‘The Nightingale’ (Photo credit: Kasia Ladczuk, Nightingale Pictures).

Jennifer Kent’s thriller The Nightingale will have its world premiere in competition at the 75th Venice International Film Festival while two virtual reality (VR) short films, Michael Beets’ The Unknown Patient and Lynette Wallworth’s Awavena will also screen in competition.

The news is a fillip for the Australian industry following yesterday’s announcement that Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September followed by the Adelaide Film Festival in October.

Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country won the special jury prize at Venice last year while Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Nick Verso’s Boys in the Trees, Bentley Dean and Martin Butler’s Tanna and Ben Young’s Hounds of Love are recent Venice alumni. The festival runs from August 29- September 8.

Produced by Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films and Bruna Papandrea and Steve Hutensky of Made Up Stories, Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook stars Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie and Michael Sheasby.

Set in 1820s Tasmania, the plot follows Franciosi (Game of Thrones, The Fall) as Clare, a young Irish convict as she chases a British officer (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 (Ganambarr), who is also marked by trauma from his own violent past.

Kent paid tribute to her exceptional cast and crew, investors Screen Australia, Screen Tasmania and South Australian Film Corporation as well as Aboriginal elder Jim Everett among the many Tasmanian Aboriginal people who gave guidance and support. Without them, she said, the film would not have been possible.

Ceyton, Papandrea and Hutensky added: “We’re so honoured and excited to be sharing the incredibly talented Jennifer Kent’s second feature film with the world at such a prestigious festival.”

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “We are thrilled to have been able to support Jennifer’s vision from development to production, now at festival and soon distribution.”

The Australian distributor Transmission is  yet to set a release date. FilmNation is handling international sales rights.

Mason said The Unknown Patient and Awavena are reminders of the diversity of stories Australians can tell and the ingenuity the  local industry brings to crafting a tale.

Beets’ film retraces the true story of a soldier found wandering in London in 1916 with no memory of his identity. He was sent to Callan Park mental asylum in Sydney where he languished for 12 years until his picture was published in newspapers, his New Zealand family recognised him and he was reunited with them.

The filmmaker discovered the story when he was researching a documentary on Australian soldiers who suffered from PTSD after serving in the Iraq War. That led him to a thesis by the University of Wollongong’s Jen Roberts, who had researched and documented the Kiwi’s horrific experience.

The motion capture work was built in a game engine and the narrative unfolds from the patient’s viewpoint. Lily Sullivan voices the main character, a nurse. The 10 minute pilot funded by Screen Australia’s Hot Shots program will screen in Venice. Beets is now raising the funds to make a long-form version which will run for 40-50 minutes.

Awavena takes viewers into the spirit realm of the Indigenous Amazonian people. Director Wallworth said: “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 story is essentially being gifted to the world by the Yawanawa people via technologies they perceived could best represent their unique world view.”


The Nightingale

Causeway Films HQ Pty Ltd and Made Up Stories Pty Ltd

Producers: Kristina Ceyton, Bruna Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, Jennifer Kent

Writer/Director: Jennifer Kent

Australian Distributor: Transmission

US Sales: Endeavor Content

International Sales: FilmNation

Synopsis: Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman (Aisling Franciosi), 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.

Production Credit: The Nightingale is a Causeway Films and Made Up Stories production. Principal production investment from Screen Australia in association with Bron Creative. Financed with support from Screen Tasmania and South Australian Film Corporation.

The Unknown Patient

Unwritten Endings and VRTOV

Producers: Bethany Jones & Katy Morrison

Writer / Director: Michael Beets

Synopsis: In 1916 a man was found wandering the streets of London in an Australian soldier’s uniform. He did not know who he was. He was deemed unfit for service, labelled a ‘deserter’, and sent to Sydney’s Callan Park Mental Asylum where he would spend 12 years without an identity: lost and forgotten. How he came to be found is the remarkable true story of ‘The Unknown Patient’. In real-time interactive virtual reality, through discovery and exploration of the patient’s memories and real-life events, the audience is invited to piece together the identity of the Unknown Patient. In doing so, the audience experiences the impact that war had on the psyche of soldiers who made it home and the hope that this story gave to a nation in mourning.

Production Credit: The Unknown Patient is a Unwritten Endings and VRTOV production. Principal production investment from Screen Australia.


VR Wallworth Pty Ltd

Producers: Nicole Newnham, Lynette Wallworth, Tashka Yawanawa (co-producer), Laura Yawanawa (co-producer)

Executive Producers: Sandy Herz, Marcie Jastrow, Gigi Pritzker, Nico Daswani

Director: Lynette Wallworth

Synopsis: For the Yawanawa, an Indigenous Amazonian people, every living thing has a spirit. Using technology that the Yawanawa feel enables them to share their visions, this immersive work allows the visitor to enter the spirit world seen by their elder shaman Tata and his disciple Hushahu–the Yawanawa’s first female shaman whose transcendent visions helped to revive a culture.

Production credit: Awavena is a VR Wallworth/Coco Films production, Presented by Technicolor Experience Center and Screen Australia in association with Just Films, Ford Foundation, Madison Wells Media and Create NSW. Supported by Stories of Change, a project of the Sundance Institute supported by the Skoll Foundation, Sundance Institute New Frontier Artist Residency Program, The World Economic Forum, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program with support from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation & The Kendeda Fund, and the Pritzker Foundation. Awavena is a US-Australian production.

Venice competition

First Man – Damien Chazelle (USA)

The Mountain – Rick Alverson (USA)

Non Fiction – Olivier Assayas (France)

The Sisters Brothers- Jacques Audiard (France/Belgium/Romania/Spain)

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs – Ethan and Joel Coen (USA)

Vox Lux – Brady Corbet (USA)

Roma – Alfonso Cuaron (Mexico)

22 July – Paul Greengrass (USA)

Suspiria – Luca Guadagnino (Italy)

Werk Ohne Autor – Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck (Germany)

The Nightingale – Jennifer Kent (Australia)

The Favourite – Yorgos Lanthimos (Italy/UK/USA)

Peterloo – Mike Leigh (UK/USA)

Capri-Revolution – Mario Martone (Italy/France)

What You Gonna Do When The World’s On Fire? – Roberto Minervini (Italy/USA/France)

Sunset – Laszlo Nemes (Hungary/France)

Close Enemies – David Oelhoffen (France/Belgium)

Nuestro Tiempo – Carlos Reygadas (Mexico/France/Germany/Denmark/Sweden)

At Eternity’s Gate – Julian Schnabel (USA/France)

Killing – Shinya Tsukamoto (Japan)

Out of Competition

The Other Side of the Wind – Orson Welles (USA)

They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead – Morgan Neville (USA)

Special Screenings

My Brilliant Friend – Saverio Costanzo (Italy/Belgium)

Il Diario Di Angela – Noi Due Cineasti – Yervant Gianikian (Italy)


Una Storia Senza Nome – Roberto Andò (Italy)

The Summer House – Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (France/Italy)

A Star Is Born – Bradley Cooper (USA)

Mi Obra Maestra – Gaston Duprat (Argentina/Spain)

A Tramway in Jerusalem – Amos Gitai (Israel/France)

One Nation, One King – Pierre Schoeller (France/Belgium)

The Quietude – Pablo Trapero (Argentina/France)

Dragged Across Concrete – S Craig Zahler (USA)

Shadow – Zhang Yimou (China)


A Letter to a Friend in Gaza – Amos Gitai (Israel)

Aquarela – Victor Kossakovsky (UK/Germany)

El Pepe, Una Vida Suprema – Emir Kusturica (Argentina/Uruguay/Serbia)

Process – Sergei Loznitsa (Netherlands)

Carmine Street Guitars – Ron Mann (Canada)

Isis, Tomorrow. The Lost Souls of Mosul – Francesca Mannocchi, Alessio Romenzi (Italy/Germany)

American Dharma – Errol Morris (USA/UK)

Introduzione All’Oscuro – Gaston Solnicki (Argentina/Austria)

1938 Diversi – Giorgio Treves (Italy)

Your Face – Tsai Ming-Liang (Chinese Taipei)

Monrovia, Indiana – Frederick Wieseman (USA)

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