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‘It’s still really, really raw’: Port Arthur Nitram Massacre movie opens in Hobart in a half-empty theater | Films

There were no signs announcing Nitram’s Tasmanian premiere at the independent State Cinema, which took place on Thursday night.

Justin Kurzel’s new film dramatizing the run-up to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre was opened to a small, quiet crowd in the mass shooter’s hometown of Hobart. Its trailers were not included in any other programming, and the film’s premiere was delayed two weeks from its national premiere.

It’s been 25 years since the horror unfolded in real life, and yet for many the idea for this movie is too much, too early, and too close to home.

In Hobart, everyone seems to know someone who was involved in hell that day, if not themselves. Thirty-five people died, including children, with 23 more serious injuries and countless lives were irrevocably changed. The killer is in Risdon Prison, about six miles down the road from the only theater showing the film in the southern half of the state.

The tragedy and the gunman are rarely mentioned in private conversation here, much less publicly. The Mercury newspaper and the local ABC have guidelines against printing or broadcasting the perpetrator’s name, not only to avoid giving him notoriety, but also because it is still too painful. The images of him, or even his resemblance in the form of actor Caleb Landry Jones, with his long, greasy blonde hair for this role, may be too much to bear.

Journalist Kim Napier worked for Hobart Radio Triple T in 1996 and covered the tragedy as it unfolded. She told Guardian Australia that finding a frame from the film with that hair triggered her trauma from the time.

“It makes me feel physically sick,” she said. “That hair is intrinsically linked to him.”

The State Cinema in North Hobart is the only cinema in Tasmania showing the film. It is located 10 km from Risdon Prison, where the gunman resides. Photographer: Loic Le Guilly

Napier will not see the movie. “It was 25 years ago, but if you scratch the surface, it’s still very, very raw,” he said. “It changed the psyche of the state. I have no interest in seeing that movie. I don’t agree with the censorship, having the movie available if people want to see it is fine. I do not.”

The 200-seat theater confirmed that there were only around 40 viewers for Nitram’s first screening, at 1 p.m. Thursday. About 100 showed up for the 6:00 pm show. Unsurprisingly, many of the attendees were not originally from Hobart or had just been born in 1996. But some were.

Tania, who did not want to give her full name, lived in Hobart in 1996 and spent most of her time in the hospital caring for her dying husband that April. She thought the movie was made with respect, but she was still very affected by it. “I felt sick,” she told Guardian Australia as she left the cinema. “It was like going to a funeral. You go out and feel … numb. “He said he came because he wanted to make sense of that moment. [the tragedy] overshadowed my husband’s death somehow. He died the next day, but everyone here was already in mourning. We don’t cry properly [so] It never ends “.

Caleb Landry Jones wins best actor award at Cannes film festival
The film was a hit on its July premiere at the Cannes film festival, where Caleb Laundry Jones won the best actor award for his acclaimed performance. Photographer: Kate Green / Getty Images

Tania said that she would not mention the movie tomorrow at work and that she did not know anyone else who was planning to come. “My parents wouldn’t see it,” he said. “My brother will not do it, he is a policeman and he went down to the place.”

Another local woman, who did not want to be named, said she had only found out about the screening a few hours earlier. “I think it’s really good that it wasn’t announced,” he said. “And they didn’t say his name, it was done delicately. It’s a very sad story. ”Like Tania, this woman said she didn’t know anyone else who would come to see him and she didn’t feel like she could ask.

Caleb Landry Jones and Justin Kurzel at Cannes in July
‘There are days when I think that’ should it be played here? ‘Says director Justin Kurzel, right. Photographer: Stephane Cardinale – Corbis / Corbis / Getty Images

Kurzel, the film’s director, lives in Hobart and always knew that screening Nitram locally would be tricky – last year’s news of the film’s production was greeted with annoyance. It was filmed in and around Geelong instead of Tasmania out of respect for the survivors and the locals. The day before the launch, Kurzel said ABC Hobart who questioned whether it should show up in the state.

“We have been very nervous about playing here,” he said. “I have to admit there are days when I think ‘should it be played here?’

“I think we wanted, in the most respectful way possible, to offer an opportunity to the people of Tasmania, so that those who want to see it, are not forced to see trailers and images that want to see it. be traumatic.

“For those who are curious about it and want to engage in a conversation about it, it is there to be seen, at the same time I fully understand that there are going to be a lot of people who feel that it is something they shouldn’t.”

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