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‘The Nightingale’s’ Jennifer Kent, Venice Film Festival React to Insult at Press Screening

UPDATED: Jennifer Kent’s well-received “The Nightingale,” the only film directed by a woman competing at the Venice Film Festival, was Topic A on the Lido on Thursday after the previous night’s screening was marred by an Italian journalist who loudly insulted called the director a “whore.” The festival moved swiftly to revoke his accreditation.

Kent addressed the incident during the film’s press conference Thursday, 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 Australian 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 utilize 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% 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 color, filmmakers from developing countries, filmmakers who don’t identify as cisgender men or women. We still have a lot of way to go.”

FilmNation is handling international sales rights on “The Nightingale.” The film, which is produced by Causeway Films and Made Up Stories, still has no U.S. distributor.

Set in 1820s Tasmania, “The Nightingale” follows Aisling Franciosi (“Game of Thrones”) 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 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. In a Twitter post on Thursday it said: “Yesterday night in Sala Darsena it happened a regrettable fact for which La Biennale di Venezia withdrew immediately the press accreditation to the person responsible.”

Here is a sample of social reactions to the original incident:

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