FORGET the red dust of the South Australian outback.
Stockton’s Simone Landers much prefers the red carpet after attending the world premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival this month of the apocalyptic Australian film she stars in, Cargo.
The 12-year-old acts opposite The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman and the legendary David Gulpilil in a story of an infected man trying to protect his daughter in the aftermath of a zombie pandemic.
Simone, a sixth-grader at Stockton Public School, said despite it feeling “weird”, she could probably get used to the glitz and glam of showbiz.
“The red carpet was so much fun, it wasn’t hard work at all,” she said.
“But I didn’t like the shoes because they were heels and I wasn’t sure how to walk in them.”
In Cargo, based on a zombie-riddled short that debuted at Tropfest 2013, Simone plays Thoomi, an Indigenous youngster, who adhering to traditional Aboriginal ways, is trying to save her already-zombified dad (Bruce Carter, Last Cab to Darwin).
Freeman plays Andy, a man infected by a terrifying virus who has 48 hours to get his baby daughter to safety.
Thoomi becomes Andy's only chance of safe passage into a flourishing Aboriginal tribe that is the baby’s best chance of survival.
Simone received rave reviews on debut described by The Guardian as “exceptional” and Screendaily said “Landers impresses”.
“The duo’s [Andy and Thoomi] initially tentative, eventually warm rapport also makes a fitting cultural statement,” Screendaily said.
“If human resilience remains paramount in zombie films, Cargo goes a step further; here, recognising and redressing the divisive mistakes of the past is more important than merely surviving.”
After watching the movie for the for time at the festival, Simone warned it was “pretty scary”.
And of her own performance? “I looked really small and my voice was really high,” she said.
“It was strange seeing me up there, but I was also really proud.”
Simone is now working on the children’s TV drama Grace Beside Me. She plays Little Lola in the series that will screen on NITV next year.
Cargo will be released worldwide next year by Netflix and will get a theatrical release in Australia around the same time.