Zombies play their part to celebrate the local boy who made good

UK premiere of latest Resident Evil film takes place in director's home town

It's a traditional North-east market town more noted for its impressive railway viaduct than its place in the film-making firmament, with Elizabethan town walls and 18th-century barracks its major attractions.

However these were no match for zombie hordes that invaded Berwick-upon-Tweed last night as the town played host to the UK premiere of one of this year's biggest Hollywood blockbusters, Resident Evil: Retribution.

The community theatre rolled out a bloodstained red carpet to welcome the latest instalment in the gory Resident Evil series by director and local boy made good, Paul W S Anderson, who hopes to encourage young film-makers in the North-east.

The film forms part of the annual Berwick Film Festival which Paul's late father, Chris Anderson, part-founded in 2005.

After Chris's death, Chrissie, his widow, and Paul set up a Young Filmmaker Award in conjunction with the festival offering a cash prize for the winner to go towards their next film-making project as well as special prizes from Anderson and his actress and model wife, Milla Jovovich.

"I'm behind the award and behind the screening at Berwick to push this idea that you don't have to grow up in Hollywood and you don't even have to grow up in London and you don't have to know anyone in the film industry," said Anderson.

"When I was studying at Warwick, the director of Greystoke came to visit and just talking to somebody who really worked in the film industry was a massive boost to my enthusiasm to keep going." The film, the latest in a series based on the successful video game, topped the box office when it opened in the US with an estimated $21.1m (£13m) for the first weekend.

Organisers hope that directors such as Paul returning to their home towns will inspire the next generation of filmmakers. Adam Graham, youth projects producer at the festival, said "[The premiere] has inspired a lot of people in Berwick to get involved and make a big event of it."

Prior to the screening, organisers hosted an apocalypse-themed pre-screening party with zombie face-painting and video games. The party culminated in a zombie walk through the town and down the gory red carpet – an old brown carpet stained red with bloody handprints – into the cinema.

Anderson was unable to attend the premiere but he and Jovovich, who stars in the film, recorded a personal introduction to it.

As the Maltings Theatre in Berwick still uses a 35mm projector, Sony had to fly a 35mm copy of the film from a cinema in Europe to ensure that it could be screened.

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