Justin Kurzel has assembled a high-profile cast to shoot “Nitram,” a feature film about a mass murder. He has also reteamed with writer Shawn Grant, who previously delivered the screenplay for Kurzel’s incendiary feature debut, 2011’s “The Snowtown Murders.”
The picture is now shooting and will play in theaters and screen as an original show for local streamer Stan in 2021. Overseas rights sales are being handled by Wild Bunch International.
The cast features Caleb Landry Jones (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Judy Davis (“The Dressmaker”), Essie Davis (“True History of the Kelly Gang”) and Anthony LaPaglia (“Lantana”).
Stan describes “Nitram” as “a scripted feature film that looks at the events leading up to one of the darkest chapters in Australian history in an attempt to understand why and how this atrocity occurred.” But it avoids identifying the specific factual basis of the picture.
Australian media, however, have revealed that the film depicts the build up to the 1996 massacre in Tasmania’s Port Arthur, in which a gunman killed 35 people and wounded a further 23. The killing led to a change in Australia’s gun laws.
Some reports explain that the Port Arthur Massacre remains such a sensitive subject in Tasmania that the producers chose to film “Nitram” elsewhere. Stan said that it is shooting in Geelong, Victoria. “We have complete faith in the ‘Nitram’ team’s creative vision and ability to handle the film’s subject matter with sensitivity and respect,” said Stan chief content officer Nick Forward in a prepared statement.
GoodThing Productions’ Nick Batzias and Virginia Whitwell (“2040,” “The Australian Dream”) are producing, with Madman Entertainment handling theatrical distribution. “Nitram” is expected to premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival next year after receiving funding through the MIFF Premiere Fund.
Since “Snowtown,” Kurzel has gone on to direct “Macbeth,” “Assassin’s Creed” and “True History of the Kelly Gang.” He is also set as director of Apple TV Plus’ “Shantaram.”