‘Nitram’ Will Study the Lead Up to the Port Arthur Massacre — Here’s What Happened

Martin Bryant

Stan has firmly cemented itself as a stand-out within the Australian film and TV industry when it comes to original projects.

Now, the streaming service is delving into one of Australia’s darkest chapters in history — the Port Arthur Massacre.

From director Justin Kurzel (True History of the Kelly Gang) and writer Shaun Grant, comes a scripted feature film, Nitram, that looks at the events leading up to the murders, in an attempt to understand why and how this atrocity occurred.

The film stars American actor Caleb Landry-Jones (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) who will play infamous killer Martin Bryant alongside Judy Davis (The Dressmaker), Essie Davis (True History of the Kelly Gang) and Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana).

Nitram will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival next year and is currently in production in Victoria.

Who Was Martin Bryant

On April 28-29, 1996, gunman Martin Bryant left 35 people dead and some 18 wounded in around Port Arthur, Tasmania.

Known as “the worst mass murder in Australia history”, the shootings were the catalyst for stricter gun control and a near-ban on fully automatic or semiautomatic firearms.

Bryant was an intellectually disabled 28-year-old, who lived in Hobart and had a history of erratic behaviour.

In 1987, he worked as a handyman for Helen Harvey, a lottery heiress, before her death in 1992 due to a car accident that killed her and left Bryant injured. There was speculation that Bryant caused the crash, however, he denied any wrongdoing.

Following this tragedy, he experienced another major loss. His father suicided in 1993 and it was after this that he began to stockpile guns.

The Port Arthur Massacre

On April 28, 1996, Bryant drove to Seascape Cottage and killed the owners before driving to a former penal colony and popular tourist destination, Port Arthur.

Bryant then ate at a cafe before pulling out a rifle and began his killing spree. Within two minutes, 20 people were dead.

The killer then fled the scene in his car before stealing another vehicle, killing the two people in the car in the process. He then went to a petrol station, fatally shot a woman, before taking a hostage.

Bryant then went back to the cottage where police tried to negotiate with him, however, he began to shoot at them. On the morning of April 29, he set the building on fire and was apprehended. Three bodies were left inside.

After the Massacre

Following the killing spree, Prime Minister John Howard created the National Firearms Agreement and included extensive licensing and registration procedures.

The Federal Government also created the gun-buyback program which saw 700,000 firearms being surrendered.

Bryant was charged with murder and received 35 life terms as well as various other sentences for additional charges.

As of 2020, he is housed in the maximum-security Risdon Prison near Hobart.

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