Aust director downplays 'whore' insult

Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent was called a "whore" by a journalist at the Venice Film Festival.
Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent was called a "whore" by a journalist at the Venice Film Festival.

An Italian journalist who called Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent a "whore" as her name appeared in the credits at the end of the screening of her film at the Venice Film Festival has had his accreditation revoked.

The Nightingale, which was well-received, is the only film directed by a woman competing at the Venice Film Festival.

Kent addressed the incident during the film's press conference, saying that "it's of absolute importance to react with compassion and love for ignorance. There is no other option.

"The film speaks very clearly to that," said the actress-turned-director, whose feature debut, The Babadook, played at Sundance.

"I am very proud of the film and my crew for daring to tell a story that needs to be told. Love, compassion, kindness are our lifeline, and if we don't utilise them, we will all go down the plughole."

Kent reflected on the fact that she's the only woman director in competition at Venice.

"It's not about me, but it is quite hard for me because I wish I had my sister filmmakers here. It's important we move towards gender parity. Cinema's job is to reflect the world, and if we only reflect 50 per cent of the world, then it's not doing its job. It's a very serious issue," Kent said.

She added: "There are other filmmakers that are under-represented: indigenous filmmakers, filmmakers of colour, filmmakers from developing countries, filmmakers who don't identify as cisgender men or women. We still have a lot of way to go."

Set in 1820s Tasmania, The Nightingale follows Game of Thrones actress Aisling Franciosi as Clare, a young Irish convict, as she chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family.

The Italian journalist who insulted Kent on Wednesday night issued an apology, which was translated and posted on Twitter by a fellow journalist.

"My gesture identifies me and only me as a boor and not the entire Italian journalistic apparatus that has been attacked around the world in the last few hours," said the journalist, who then claimed his insult was not a sexist or misogynistic attack but rather "an irrational and hyperbolic thought of a cynicism that might go well (but actually not) at a bar with friends but is absolutely out of place within an art exhibition."

Support for Kent flowed on social media from journalists as well as film professionals, and the festival responded by yanking the accreditation from the guilty journalist.

Australian Associated Press