Before he was asked to expand his 2005 short, "Alive in Joburg," Neill Blomkamp, born in South Africa and living in Canada, was a commercial director slated to direct the now-shelved "Halo" film. He did, however, make three films based on the video game franchise, one of which has won a prize for best Internet short film at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. Peter Jackson, who was to produce that film, instead produced "District 9." Wired chronicles the history of the director through a few of the short films he directed when he wasn't working his day job as a special effects artist on Hollywood fare like "Smallville" and commercials he himself directed.
All of the films have the same animated robotics that make "District 9"'s aliens so realistic. The animated characters are both robots and aliens and the subject matter spans from his 2003 South African robotic cop faux commercial, "Tetra Vaal," to a parody of the inane office with a temp robot in "Tempbot" to the alien invaders who are subsequently placed in a slum because the city population doesn't understand or like them in "Alive in Joburg":
The film, which has become a talking point for its apartheid allegory, is already a hit for TriStar pictures, will test its legs this week as it goes up against Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" at the box office. Another race that "District 9" will be testing is the 2009 Oscar race for best picture. Our own Hollywood blogger Anne Thompson has called for serious consideration of the film for a Best Picture Oscar, especially now that the number of nominees has increased to ten.