The Venice Film Festival has withdrawn the press accreditation for a man who, at one of last night’s press screenings of Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, hurled a sexist insult when the director’s name appeared in the credits. On its Twitter feed, the festival today called the incident “a regrettable fact” and said it had “immediately” pulled the person’s credentials (see the tweets below).
The previously fest-accredited offender identified himself in a Facebook post today (read it below) as the person who shouted “Shameful whore, you suck!” when the credits came up last night. He walked it back as “a spit out of the mouth that didn’t think about its consequences” and said the gesture should be “condemned for its extremely explicit and offensive nature.” But he characterized it as neither a “sexist or misogynistic attack.”
The Nightingale comes to Venice, through no fault of its own, with a lot of baggage. It is the only movie in the competition directed by a woman, which instantly became a major hot-button when the lineup was first revealed. The repercussions of such an imbalance have continued throughout the festival and were first addressed by Kent in an interview with Deadline earlier this week.
They were stoked again today once word began to roll out of the offending comments at last night’s first showing. The movie had its official premiere today to largely positive reviews.
Kent had previously told Deadline there was a need for “more attention on the feminine voice in this festival or any festival, it is a primary concern of mine. Of course I feel it’s important that we even the balance. We need to not just for storytelling. I think there needs to be a greater respect for the feminine voice across the planet. It’s a real issue and it’s something that affects all of us, not just women. If we can respect women it will help everyone else as well. For me it’s vital. It could not be more important.”
In her press conference this afternoon, Kent, who is the award-winning director of 2014 breakout The Babadook, reacted to a question about the outburst. She said it is of “absolute importance to react with compassion and love for ignorance. There is no other option. The film speaks very clearly to that. 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.”
Here is the Facebook post by the man who claimed responsibility for shouting the insult (translated from Italian by Facebook):