Directed by Gabriele Salvatores, starring Guiseppe Cristiano, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Giulia Matturo, Dino Abbrescia, Giorgio Careccia, Mattioa Di Pierro and Diego Abatanantuono.

Director Gabriele Salvatores achieves a wonderful balance between enlightenment and darkness in this beautifully shot coming-of-age film. Set in the scorching hot Italian summer of 1978, 'I'm Not Scared' is a tale of growing up too quickly. It tells the story of innocence destroyed, revealing the cruelty of the adult world as seen through the eyes of a child.

Ten-year-old Michele (Cristiano) lives in a rural and very remote community in Southern Italy, surrounded by acres of cornfields. He spends his days exploring the local area by bike with his friends - his little sister Maria (Matturo) tagging along but needing much looking after. A captivating story develops from these tame beginnings when Michele uncovers a secret cave that leads him on an extraordinary journey to the truth.

When he discovers a young boy locked away in the cave, Michele is acutely aware that the situation he has stumbled upon is very wrong. Befriending this captive child, Michele crosses the line between the idyllic innocence of childhood and the harsh reality of the adult world. But while he feeds the boy, Fillipo (Di Pierro), and keeps him company, he dares not release him from his captors.

But the more he explores, the closer to home the truth lies. With powerful twists and a dramatic unfolding of events, Michele's journey from light into darkness and back again is perfectly framed. The openness and freedom symbolised by the wild cornfields of the countryside are wonderfully juxtaposed with the cramped, dark cave as the two children are catapulted into a world from which they can never return, because innocence cannot be reclaimed.

The cinematography in 'I'm Not Scared' is amazing - the searing heat seems to radiate from the screen and the images of vast cornfields perfectly capture the supposed carelessness of childhood. In fact, the movie is so pretty to watch that you tend to gloss over its flaws, its beauty overshadowing the ambiguity of the story. And you become so immersed in the film and its climactic ending that you forget that there are many questions left unanswered when the final credits roll.

Linda McGee