When Nitram was announced earlier in the year, there was tremendous dialogue both supporting and rejecting the premise of releasing a film based on an event that sends a shiver down the spine of all Australians – the Port Arthur Massacre. It’s in this humble writer’s view that there’s enough suffering and misery in the world without replicating it on the big screen, but that’s neither here nor there. Nitram will be released, and the film’s first trailer shows us that it’s going to be both even bleaker and even more miserable than we could have imagined.
Exact dates for the film’s rollout are still to be announced, but it has been confirmed that after an airing at Cannes – the first Australian film to be showcased at the iconic event in a decade – Nitram will debut onshore at the Melbourne International Film Festival before hitting cinemas and eventually Stan (via Madman Films).
25 years after what was then considered to be the worst massacre by a lone gunman, Nitram (flip the name backwards to work out where it comes from) takes us through the events leading up to a shocking tragedy that saw monumental gun reform take place in Australia. 35 men, women, and children were murdered in cold blood between 11:45am on April, 28th, 1996 and 8:00am on April 29th, 1996.
The filmmakers behind Nitram have put considerable focus on the fact that the film doesn’t show the actual massacre, but the events that led up to it, including the troubled childhood of Martin Bryant, and his baffling relationship with a reclusive heiress.
The film will star Caleb Landry Jones (who you may remember from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) in the lead role, alongside his mother, played by Judy Davis and father, Anthony LaPaglia. The cast were brought on board under the watchful gaze of filmmaker Snowtown’s Justin Kurzel, who once again teamed up with Snowtown writer Shaun Grant for the project.
“Nitram was written as a response to the proliferation of regular mass shootings across the world and is an exploration of the issues and events that led to this atrocity, rather than a re-enactment of it, to bring the gun control debate to the fore and to try to ensure history does not repeat itself,” the filmmakers have said.
The short trailer alone is enough to capture the haunting, miserable tone of the film, punctuated by some stomach-turning dialogue and bone-chilling visuals. Check it out at your own risk below.