BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: District 9

District 9
Directed by: Neill Blomkamp
Written by: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Starring: Sharlto Copley and Jason Cope

The year 2009 has been a splendid year for sci-fi, with Cameron’s Avatar pushing the limits in film making technology as well as box office potential, Abram’s sleek and erogenous revival of Star Trek reaching wide commercial success, and the pyscho-thiller Moon grabbing newcomer director Duncan Jones some serious attention. It is safe to add to the list District 9, which happens to be the best of the bunch.

Originally, producer Peter Jackson had picked South African born Neill Blomkamp to make his directorial debut with an adaptation to the video game phenomenon Halo. But when financing put the project in development purgatory, Jackson gave Blomkamp the go ahead to make whatever film he wanted. Under one condition: a fraction of the budget.

District 9 comes from a mini-mokumentary made by Blomkamp when his career was still only Nike commercials and digital shorts. It’s all set in his own birthplace, Johannesburg, where there are townships, slums, heavy accents, and barbed wire fences that give the film a harsh and gritty setting.

Twenty years prior to modern time, a large space craft stalled above the city, unable to move. After humans entered the ship, they encountered something much different from the “light of heavens” interaction they were expecting. The aliens were diseased, famished and hopeless. So for twenty years, the government kept them isolated in a ghetto which experienced crime, discrimination and poverty. It is up to the world’s second largest weapons manufacturer, MNU, to relocate the “prawns” into a far-off concentration camp after humans can no longer take their burden. In charge of the evacuation is Wikus (Copley), a pencil pusher looking to prove his place, who begins to find himself split between the two worlds in a great chase for weapons and power that he barely understands.

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