HomeEntertainmentHit Sci-fi Opens in South Africa

Hit Sci-fi Opens in South Africa

THE futuristic South African sci-fi District 9 that has taken the US box office by storm opened in its home country last weekend.

Parallels with the experience of apartheid in District 9 are likely to resonate particularly with South African audiences.
The story begins with an alien space ship breaking down over South Africa’s largest metropolis, Johannesburg — leaving the unfortunate creatures on board stranded.
Their human hosts rescue them, but 20 years on they are exploited and segregated in militarised townships to keep them away from angry locals.
Made for a mere US$30 million, inexpensive by Hollywood standards, the District 9 film is already a huge box office hit in the US, having brought in US$73 million during its first 10 days in cinemas.
In South Africa, the country where it was filmed, it is likely to strike a chord with audiences all too familiar with issues of racism, xenophobia and segregation.
This time the victims are insectile aliens, but their eviction and forced removal from one place to another because of their species echoes the racial segregation that plagued South Africa until 1990.
In fact, it was filmed in Soweto, a township created by the apartheid state to keep black South Africans away from white Johannesburg.
District 9 is the work of 29-year-old first-time director Neill Blomkamp with the help of Lord of the Rings maestro Peter Jackson, who acts as producer.
Blomkamp who also co-wrote the film grew up in Johannesburg before moving to Canada in his late teens. He says he didn’t want his first film to be defined by politics.
“I didn’t want to go, ‘Here’s a whole bunch of people oppressed by this apartheid-esque society’ and beat people over the head with it,” Blomkamp told CNN. “I rather wanted to say this is the city I grew up in this is what it felt like.”
The film’s star and long-time friend of Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley, who plays security operative Wikus Van De Merwe says many of the film’s themes are universal.
“The film deals with things that are so fundamentally human,” Copley told CNN. “That it’s quite easy to see how you discriminate against you know this group or that group or a religious group.”
Blomkamp may want the political references to take a backseat but District 9 is still very much a South African production.
The thick South African accents and distinctive dialogue spoken by many of the film’s characters were authentic as most of the cast were, in fact, locals.
“90 percent of the community was hired … catering, security, extras. Great fun,” said David James who plays a mercenary.
It was good money for the unemployed residents of the Soweto suburb where much of the film was shot: “For this to be shot in my township … we feel fortunate,” said caterer Sylvia Khoza. “Many
people benefit from this movie.”  — CNN.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

NewsDay Zimbabwe will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.