Upon its premiere at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival, “The Nightingale,” Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut “The Babadook,” received positive reviews and went on to win a Special Jury Prize and the Marcello Mastroianni award for Best New Young Performer for Aboriginal star Baykali Ganambarr.
Ahead of its North American premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, her latest provocative work has been picked up by IFC Films, the same distributor that handled “The Babadook,” a film that would eventually become an Internet sensation and inspired countless memes after a Netflix glitch that listed it as an LGBTQ title.
For “The Nightingale,” Kent set her story in 19th century Australia, and centered it Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish prisoner desperate to escape the brutal treatment by her violent captor Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). The location is the inhospitable Tasmanian landscape, which sees Clare chase after Hawkins following an atrocious act he commits against her family. In her quest for revenge, the heroine befriends Billy (Ganambarr), a young Aboriginal man. In turn Billy is also running from his own traumatic past in the rugged British colony.
Today, Kent told Variety she was happy to re-team with IFC Films for “The Nightingale” given how satisfied she was with the indie distributor’s handling of her previous feature in the United States. For her, she said, it’s important to find a company that will protect and champion the work of independent creators.
The filmmaker also noted one of the key reasons that made IFC an ideal partner was their commitment to a substantial theatrical rollout. This strategy, she thinks, will allow audiences to see the movie on the big screen and hopefully break through the noise of the numerous online offers in the current market.