Female Filmmaker Friday: Jennifer Kent, Director of "The Nightingale"
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"Jen is an incredibly empathetic director, and we just really wanted to be committed to the truth of what living through something like that is like."
Jennifer Kent is an Australian director, writer, and actress who graduated from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in 1991.
Kent began her career as an actress, working mostly on Australian television before her interest shifted toward directing. Not wishing to attend film school, Kent wrote to director Lars von Trier and asked to study under him. He gave her a job on his film Dogville.
Kent’s first directing job came with her short film Monster, screening it at many film festivals all over the world. Her feature debut happened in 2014 with the film The Babadook, starring actress Essie Davis. The film, of the horror genre, debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It received critical and audience acclaim around the world, thus proving women could direct and write horror when given the opportunity.
Kent’s second feature-length film The Nightingale takes place in 1825, and follows Irish woman, Clare, who chases the British officer who violated her person, and her family. The film’s violent content has been said to make some movie-goers leave theaters, but Kent says the numbers of walk-outs have been exaggerated by the media. While the film is violent in some instances (there are two rape scenes, as well as other violent acts), Kent is quick to point out the double standards held for women who tell stories of violence:
“It’s very expected for men to deal in the realm of violence, and it’s not expected for women to have these stories to tell. Which makes me sad, but also very proud that I pushed through and made it.”
The scenes are needed to understand the character’s plight, and also show what real women at the time had to face. Even today, women are the recipients of violent acts as a result of war. This subject matter, while tough to watch, is important to bring to light.
"I think there's a beauty in horror, and there's darkness in light; and I'm always interested in that."
The Nightingale is open in select theaters today.