Aussie director Jennifer Kent the only woman in Venice Film Festival line-up
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Aussie director Jennifer Kent the only woman in Venice Film Festival line-up

The 2018 Venice Film Festival kicks off in just over a month, and will feature 21 films that have been hand-selected by director Alberto Barbera.

Of those selected, just one was helmed by a female: The Nightingale, a feature film by Australian director Jennifer Kent.

Despite the good news for the Australian film industry, the festival has come under fire for its lack of female representation.

It faced the same criticisms last year when it had an identical male-to-female ratio, but Barbera has again defended the selection, saying, "it's out of our hands".

"When we see a first feature coming out of the blue from I don't know where, when we're looking at the quality of the filmmaking, I don't care if it's a man or a woman," Barbera told The Hollywood Reporter.

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"I just care because it's a good film. Of course I would be happy to have more females in the festival, but it doesn't depend on me.

"Of course if I see ROMA I know that it's made by Alfonso Cuaron. If I see a film made by Jennifer Kent, I know Jennifer Kent made the film," he said. "We watched Nightingale because we knew the filmmaker was a promising talent and so on."

Barbera said the gender imbalance came down to prejudice that still existed in the film industry, and that giving women directors a certain amount of festival slots, not necessarily based on merit, was not the way to go.

"You need to change the possibility to approach the profession, to give women the same possibilities that are given to men now, and this is something that is out of our hands," Barbera said.

"Venice can’t do anything about that. It’s not up to us to change the situation. It came too late in the process of filmmaking. We can't do anything about that."

For Kent, the selection caps off an incredible few years following the success of her 2014 film The Babadook.

"It’s a dream come true to be premiering The Nightingale at Venice in official competition," Kent said in a statement sent to Fairfax Media. "I owe a great deal to my exceptional cast and crew, who were wholeheartedly devoted to making this film the very best it could be.

Australian director Jennifer Kent is the only female director selected for the Venice Film Festival.

Australian director Jennifer Kent is the only female director selected for the Venice Film Festival.

Photo: Causeway Films

"Thanks to all our investors for allowing me to make the film I set out to make. And a huge thanks to Uncle Jim Everett.

"Without his guidance and support, along with the help we received from many Tasmanian Aboriginal people, this film would quite simply not exist."

Kent's isn't the only Australian work selected for the festival - Michael Beets' The Unknown Patient and Lynette Wallworth's Awavena, both virtual reality short films, will also make their international debuts when the festival kicks off on August 29.