VENICE, Italy – Australian director Shannon Murphy has debuted her latest work “Babyteeth” at the 76th Venice Film Festival.
The drama film is about a teenage girl with terminal cancer, played by Eliza Scanlen, who falls in love with a young thug, Toby Wallace, to her parents’ despair.
The tone interweaves intensity and irreverence and avoids the sentimentality of a love story, instead focusing on disease and dysfunctional families.
Murphy was the second female director in this year’s competition aspiring for a Golden Lion.
When asked about women in the industry, Murphy said at a press conference on Wednesday: “I think it’s a real struggle to always be having to answer questions about being a female filmmaker to be honest.
“Mainly because I feel like it takes away from the artistry of what we’re trying to do and our product and it also kind of I think continues the mythology of the great male director and his poetic process and we’re constantly having to talk about the struggle and the hardship.”
She said that in Australia she has not had a hard time making her way because there is a government program called Gender Matters.
Babyteeth was based on a play by Australian playwright and actress Rita Kalnejais, which premiered in Sydney in 2012.
Scanlen, 20, was introduced to the world of acting three years ago and has entered the industry strongly.
Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis played her fictional parents, who were forced to get rid of fears and prejudices for the benefit of their daughter while dealing with their own problems.
The star of the day was Chinese actress Gong Li, internationally recognized for her work with Zhang Yimou.
Gong Li starred Saturday Fiction, a spy melodrama directed by Lou Ye set in 1941 in Shanghai during World War Two.
The film is based on the novel Death in Shanghai by Hong Ying.
The events took place in the days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Gong Li plays actress Jean Yu, who returns to Shanghai to perform a play directed by her former lover.