Zombi Child

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France | 2019 | 103 minutes | Bertrand Bonello

February 7 - 9, 2020

French provocateur Bertrand Bonello (Nocturama) smartly mines the origins of the zombie narrative as a means of delving into the subject of his nation's colonialist past and the present ramifications of that history.

Setting his story set across two distinct timelines, Bonello pitches the tale of Clairvius Narcissse (Mackenson Bijou), a Haitian man whose "zombification" resulted in forced labor in the sugar cane fields, against the present day encounters of his granddaughter Mélissa (Wislanda Louimat) as she navigates the social and political terrain of a predominately white, all-girls private school in France, populated by the daughters and granddaughters of Legion of Honour recipients. Striking up a friendship with the headstrong Fanny (Louise Labèque), Mèlissa gains access to a secret student group whose literary drives and hazing process leads her to reveal her family history, setting Fanny on a path of engagement (and appropriation) of the voodoo rituals connected to Mèlissa's ancestry. With its shrewd repurposing of the themes of Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur's I Walked with a Zombie to address the slavery and colonialism of the past and the ripples of that history as they play out in the present, Zombi Child is a mysterious and yet strongly pointed exploration on the question of national culpability, as posed by one of contemporary cinema's current masters.

"Bonello's electrifying folklore gets under your skin, with the audacious and cunning mystique of a magician who always has one more trick prepared."—Ella Kemp, Little White Lies

"I liked the idea of taking on a very famous figure—'the zombie,' we all know, is almost a pop figure. So to start from there and go back to the origin interested me. And with this movement between periods, to talk about slavery, and the relationship between France and Haiti, which has a very tough, complicated history with regards to slavery."—Bertrand Bonello

  • Director: Bertrand Bonello
  • Principal Cast: Louise Labeque, Wislanda Louimat, Adile David, Ninon Francois, Mathilde Riu, Bijou Mackenson, Katiana Milfort
  • Country: France
  • Year: 2019
  • Running Time: 103 minutes
  • Screenplay: Bertrand Bonello
  • Language: French, Creole
  • Has Subtitles: Yes