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Controversial Movie About Port Arthur Massacre Stuns Audience At Cannes Film Festival

Stewart Perrie


Controversial Movie About Port Arthur Massacre Stuns Audience At Cannes Film Festival

Featured Image Credit: Good Thing Productions

The controversial film delving into the Port Arthur massacre gunman has stunned crowds at the Cannes Film Festival.

NITRAM copped heavy criticism when news of its storyline first leaked, with many calling for the project to be dumped out of respect to the victims loved ones.

Those calls fell on deaf ears and production soldiered on. Despite the initial backlash, it appears international audiences have been overwhelmed with the film.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, when the movie debuted at the glitzy film festival it received a seven-minute standing ovation.

Legendary director Spike Lee, who is head of the Cannes competition jury, even went over to hug star Caleb Landry Jones, who was crying with joy.

Credit: Good Thing Productions
Credit: Good Thing Productions

Now that the only Australian film to be granted an audience at Cannes has debuted, official reviews are allowed to be published and it's a bit of a mixed bag.

In the positive camp we have Variety's Jessica Kiang, who wrote: "The intense discomfort of this nitroglycerine meditation on what makes a mass murderer is exactly that of watching a lit firework burn down in your hand toward its gunpowder base, unable to let go of it, transfixed by its snapping sparks.

"Nitram may come to be recognised as one of the finest exemplars yet of the mass-shooting movie - inasmuch as we can stomach having an entire genre built around the phenomenon."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw called it a 'hypnotically disquieting film' while The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney added that it was an 'uncommonly tough, taxing film with an aftershock that's hard to shake'.

However, as to be expected, not everyone was a fan.

Hannah Strong from Little White Lies said: "What purpose does it really serve to remind audiences that monsters live among us? It's a message that's forced on us on a near daily basis."

Credit: Good Thing Productions
Credit: Good Thing Productions

Special care has been taken to address what happened with delicacy. Gunman Martin Bryant isn't mentioned during the near two-hour film (however his name is spelt backwards for the title) and the actual massacre is never shown.

Instead, the audience gets to peek inside Bryant's life and relationship with his parents before the tragedy of Port Arthur took place.

Martin Bryant carried out the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in Tasmania and slaughtered 35 people and wounded 23 more with an AR-10 rifle.

Producer Nick Batzias said the point of the film is not to dwell on what happened, but have a conversation about gun ownership.

Unsurprisingly, he thinks the film will land a big audience in North America.

"In the US there is interest, but I think with a film like this a lot of people are going to wait and see what the critical response is," he said.

"But it's going to sell most territories by the time we leave here. And everyone that has bought it is the right home for that sort of film, interested in that conversation."

It earned a 7-minute standing ovation and official reviews have praised it as 'one of the finest exemplars yet of the mass-shooting movie'.

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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