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Nitram

Justin Kurzel

Our Nitram screening on Sun 10 July at 20:15 will be followed by a recorded Q&A with director Justin Kurzel and actress Essie Davies.

Australian director Justin Kurzel returns to the true-crime genre for the first time since his blistering 2011 debut Snowtown with Nitram, about the lead-up to the Port Arthur Massacre of 1996.

The film has been controversial in Kurzel’s native Australia, where the real-life reverberations of the murders are very much still fresh in people’s minds and their perpetrator still alive in prison. Kurzel stops short of depicting the massacre itself though; this film is an unflinching, unsensational, and disturbing look at the events which led a lone gunman to this horrendous crime.

"...an intense and challenging film..."

In keeping with modern sensibilities around denying perpetrators any chance for notoriety, the murderer is not named in the film. The title Nitram is a hated childhood nickname (invented for the film), which is the real-life killer’s first name backwards. The lead character is played by Caleb Landry-Jones (winner of the Best Actor award at the 2021 Cannes Festival), and is an isolated loner who lives with his parents and has a predilection for fireworks. Kurzel deftly sketches his parents; his mother is sharp and brusque, his father soft, and indulgent of his son’s wayward behaviour. They are played excellently by Judy Davis and Anthony LaPaglia. The other major presence in Nitram’s life is an ageing heiress (played by The Babadook’s Essie Davis) with whom he strikes up a strange friendship with, spending time in her dilapidated mansion with a horde of boisterous dogs. 

There is a chilling, distressing naturalism to the film, as events build inexorably towards their fatal conclusion. For Scottish audiences, a heart-stopping moment comes when Nitram is seen watching news coverage of the Dunblane shooting. But Kurzel does not present us with a single catalysing motivation, rather using suggestion and asking questions of his audience. It is an intense and challenging film which forces us to face the unspeakable.


If you need to book one of our wheelchair seats please contact our box office team on 01382 432 444, or email dca@dca.org.uk. If you require anything else or have any further questions, please get in touch. We hope you enjoy your visit!