If you ever heard of or watched District 9, you should make sure to hit play and take a peek at a short that started it all.
Alive in Joburg is a science fiction short film directed by Neill Blomkamp and released by Spy Films in 2005. Filmed in Johannesburg, South Africa it became known for its great visual effects and documentary-style imagery exploring the tension between the human population and extraterrestrial refugees whose spaceships (some of which are estimated to be one kilometer in length) can be seen floating right above the city.
In reality District 9 is an expansion to the short film that in only six minutes have awoken the imagination of a major production company.
With the main aim of documenting the escalating tension between the people and their extraterrestrial neighbors, Alive in Joburg takes us on a unforgettable journey among equally unforgettable visuals. Initially greeted with opened arms by the human population (although mostly for their bio-suits and other never seen before technology) the aliens, unable to get back on their spaceships and fly ‘home’ took residence in the city.
However, as the years passed by and with nothing being done to integrate them into the society, the new earth inhabitants have began to migrate to different parts of the town. To add to the growing tensions they were also ‘forced’ to live among the already oppressed black Africans as the film is taking place in the 1990, a time when apartheid was still in effect in the nation of South Africa.
At the end, what distinguishes this short from all the other sci-fi movies is the way the ‘visitors’ themselves are portrayed. So while most films show aliens as ready to take over the world or simply destroy it, Alive in Joburg, presents them as more of a social problem.
The extraterrestrial population, just like many of the Africans, now live in horrible conditions and is often forced to commit crimes in order to survive – resulting in a clash with the police. Filmed as a fictional documentary, the short than continues to depict this escalating conflict with the use of footage from hand-held cameras and interviews from the ‘worried’ locals.
So whether you are about to rent out District 9 and need a little sneak preview or simply want to see some great western science-fiction in a non-western setting be sure to hit play below.
* Interviews which do not specifically mention extraterrestrials were taken from authentic interviews with South Africans expressing their opinions on the Zimbabwean refugees.
- Written by Natalie
- Published on June 26, 2011