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'Brutal': Viewers Walk Out Of Aussie Film 'The Nightingale' Over Shocking Scenes

Content warning: This article discusses the topic of rape.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a statement from the director.

Viewers were left shocked after witnessing violent gang rape scenes in a screening of Australian horror film 'The Nightingale' at its screening during the Sydney Film Festival on Sunday.

Filmed in Tasmania, the rape-revenge flick is set in the 18th century and follows the story of 21-year-old Irish convict Clare (played by Aisling Franciosi) who vows revenge after her family is mercilessly killed.

Within the first 20 minutes, cinemagoers were reportedly subjected to a drawn-out graphic scene in which Clare is gang raped by a number of men, prompting a number of viewers to walk out.

It also featured a number of other confronting scenes, including the slaughter of children and Indigenous people.

The film subsequently received mixed reviews, with some criticising the "confronting" visceral imagery, while others praised Francioisi's acting in the starring role, as well as insisting that it's important to reflect upon Australia's brutal history, particularly with Indigenous Australians.

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'The Nightingale' is the second feature film directed by Jennifer Kent, who directed 2014 horror 'The Babadook'. The film is also produced by Bruna Papandrea, who also produced 'Big Little Lies'.

Kent herself has previously spoken out to First Showing about filming the graphic scenes, saying, "It really pushed me to my absolute limits as a human being. Anyone who was on that set will tell you".

She added that she ensured that her cast was able to cope with the psychological toll of filming such intense scenes.

Kent also released the following statement to 10 daily:

Whilst The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our indigenous people, the film is not ‘about’ violence. It’s about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times. Both 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.

'The Nightingale' is set to be released in Australian cinemas August 29th.

Image: IFC Films/Youtube