Justin Kurzel (True History Of The Kelly Gang, Snowtown) has signed on to direct his next project, a film about the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania titled Nitram. Caleb Landry Jones, Judy Davis, Essie Davis and Anthony LaPaglia have all already boarded the film, which is expected to begin shooting soon.
The massacre took place over two days in April 1996. 35 people were killed and 23 were wounded in what ended up being the worst massacre in modern Australia committed by a single person. It led to fundamental changes to gun laws in the country. Kurzel’s film will seek to analyse the events that led to this dark chapter in Australian history in an attempt to understand why and how the atrocity occurred.
Shaun Grant has penned the screenplay. GoodThing Productions’ Nick Batzias and Virginia Whitwell are producing, with Madman Entertainment handling theatrical distribution. Wild Bunch International are handling sales, although the film is being prepped for festival screenings before a same day VOD-and-cinema release.
Kurzel certainly likes diving deep into dark subjects. Snowtown revolved around the real-life “bodies in barrels” murders committed between August 1992 and May 1999, which led to one of the longest and most publicised trials in Australian history. True History Of The Kelly Gang is a fictionalised account of the life of bushranger and outlaw Ned Kelly.
So directing a film about the horrific Port Arthur massacre seems right up his alley. There’s always a tricky line to walk between examination and exploitation when making a film like this, but Kurzel has already proved he has the directing chops to tackle dark subjects head-on, and can hopefully do the same here with this upsetting slice of Australian history.