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Confronting Film 'The Nightingale' Takes Top AACTA Award

Director Jennifer Kent has swept the Australian film and television industry's AACTA awards for her acclaimed film 'The Nightingale'.

While she wasn't present to accept, Kent took out the awards for best screenplay, best direction and best film, making her the first woman to win all three categories for the same film in the same year.

The flick's star, Aisling Franciosi -- who plays Irish convict Clare -- also nabbed the award for Best Actress.

Filmed in Tasmania, 'The Nightingale' is set in the 18th century and follows the story of 21-year-old Clare who vows revenge after her family is mercilessly killed.

Upon its initial viewing at the Sydney Film Festival back in June, the film made headlines for its graphic imagery, with some cinemagoers leaving within 20 minutes following a brutal scene in which Clare is gang-raped by a number of men.

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 in June:

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.

Image: IFC Films/Youtube