One of the best directors working today, Bertrand Bonello continually pushes boundaries in thrilling ways. Following his provocative terrorist thriller Nocturama, he’ll be paying homage to Jacques Tourneur with his next film, Zombi Child, premiering in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight tomorrow. Starting in 1962 in Haiti, it finds a man brought back to the dead, then 55 years later in Paris, we center on a boarding school, with a Haitian girl confesses dark, strange family secrets.
In preparation for shooting, Bonello says he didn’t immerse himself in zombie films, “but Roméro’s films were very much with me. Nevertheless, I did rewatch Jacques Tourneur’s superb I Walked with a Zombie, whose title is the film’s opening dialogue. I found inspiration in photography books, in novels, or anthropological publications, starting with one by a Swiss author, Alfred Métraux, Voodoo in Haiti, written in the 1950s, in which he gives a detailed description of the nasal voice, the demeanor and walk, the powder causing skin depigmentation around the eyes… and then, when looking for a story evoking the zombi in a particular manner to be used specifically for Melissa’s induction into the literary sorority, I discovered a poem by René Depestre, Cap’tain Zombi. This is the poem that is quoted as the film’s epigraph. Depestre also wrote a beautiful book, Hadriana in All My Dreams, the story of a white zombi woman, which I discovered thanks to a recommendation by our Haitian producer, Guetty Felin.”
Ahead of the premiere, check out the first clip below for one of our most-anticipated films of the festival, as well as new images and poster for the film starring Louise Labèque, Wislanda Louimat, and Adile David.
Haiti, 1962. A man is brought back from the dead only to be sent to the living hell of the sugarcane fields.
In Paris, 55 years later, at the prestigious Légion d’honneur boarding school, a Haitian girl confesses an old family secret to a group of new friends – never imagining that this strange tale will convince a heartbroken classmate to do the unthinkable.
Zombi Child premieres tomorrow at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight.