The Story Behind District 9

From South Africa to space for one of summer’s big surprises

After months of anticipation, District 9 is finally about to explode into our cinemas.

Yet even a year ago, it was flying so far under the radar that the first thing most people knew about it was a viral poster campaign at Comic-Con 2008.

So how exactly did the low-budget sci-fi blockbuster emerge as one of the better films of the year?

At this year's San Diego event, Total Film got a chance to ask co-writer/director Neil Blomkamp, producer Peter Jackson and star Sharlto Copley just that.

Warning: there are possible (mild) spoilers for anyone who wants to see the movie pure...


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Next: Any other ideas?

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Next: Testing times

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Next: The look of District 9

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Next: Shooting in the slums

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Next: Viral awareness

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Next: Trailer time

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8. Trailer time

The first trailer for District 9 finally arrived in March, bringing with it a proper look at the aliens (once some pesky blurring had been removed) and a real feel for what the film would be about.

Which is to say, a bigger budget version of Alive In Joburg, with all the political implications that brings.

Blomkamp is quick to point out, however, that the film is not designed to pummel audiences with the anti-Apartheid message.

“I grew up in South Africa during Apartheid and I very actively wanted to make a film that had science fiction placed in that African setting, specifically that South African setting,” he explains.

“There’s no question that there’s many, many, many elements of Apartheid and segregation and now xenophobia in South Africa that have made their way into the film but they provide the sort of foundation that the film rests on top of.

“It’s like a framework that’s there and it provides a very strange alternate reality because there’s aliens involved, but it doesn’t beat you over the head.

“So if you see the film, it’s like I’m not trying to force those kind of soapbox beliefs of mine onto you.

“I’m simply saying this is all stuff that affected me when I was a kid and I put science fiction into it. Now you can take from it what you want within a sort of satirical, dark humour kind of backdrop.”

And finally, we get to see the movie itself…

Next: The Prawns have landed

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