Locarno Film Festival Opened With A Zombie Invasion

A muggy evening of August 3 in Locarno turned into a glamorous fiesta of international cinema. The 69th Locarno Film Festival's Opening Night filled the Piazza Grande with the cinema lovers from all over the world.

The biggest screen in Europe was ready to start the night with The Girl With All The Gifts. But before the film, the audience greeted the stars of the Festival, including the US actor Bill Pullman who has been granted Excellence Award Moët & Chandon for his acting skills. The audience had a chance to rush through his film career from Spaceballs to Lost Highway and Independence Day. Despite of an obvious jet lag, which Bill mentioned himself, he remained witty on stage and in the light of the current presidential elections he even made a joke about him being the president of the United States (as in the both Independence Days).

The stage has been also given to the main actresses of The Girl With All The Gifts (by Colm McCarthy): Sennia Nanua and Gemma Arterton. Sennia is a total newcomer in the world of cinematography. As Gemma Arterton told the audience, Sennia was selected from 500 girls to the role of Melanie. And despite the experience before the camera, Sennia remained shy on stage, producing very short answers to the questions of the Festival's Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian.

The Girl With All The Gifts is based on a novel by M.R. Carey and tells a story of a dystopian future in which most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection. Melanie is a 10-year-old child of the infected mother who together with the other children of the same kind is locked in the military base for scientific purposes. While living under these restricted conditions, Melanie develops a warm relationship with her teacher Helen Justineau who sees her as a real human. When the base is attacked by the "hungries", the rest of its staff are forced to leave it, but Helen manages to take Melanie with them. Will this genius, however, infected girl become their savior or their doom?

The film keeps its audience in suspense from the first moments when you hear a girl counting to 40 in her cell. Being strapped to the wheelchair she's taken to the classroom where more kids like her are already waiting for the teacher. It feels totally inhuman but soon everybody witnesses why these precautions are more than necessary. But Melanie is different.

The mood of the film never leaves any hope. And as the remaining company loses its members one by one surrounded by millions of hungry for blood walking dead, once known as a human race, you involuntary compress your fists to pray for the last survivors slinking through the deserted jungles of London. Just a smile crosses the lips when washed-out or knocked-off brands of Next, Mercedes, Lidl or Barclay's on once glorious buildings flash instantaneously on the screen. Is this the end that waits us around the corner?

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