100 World Class South Africans: Neill Blomkamp

2013-09-11 12:00

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Risk taker and social commentator

They say Neill Blomkamp single-handedly saved the sci-fi genre.

At a time when most films are remakes or sequels, his are entirely original – who else would have created the eerie image of an alien spaceship hovering over Johannesburg (in 2009’s District 9)?

After the studio pulled the plug on what was to be Blomkamp’s big break – the film version of cult video game Halo – producer Peter Jackson offered him the chance to make his own little, low-budget movie as consolation.

District 9 turned out to be a spectacular start to a career. Growing up in Joburg, Blomkamp got into 3D animation (D9 star Sharlto Copley let him use his computers).

From there it was a hop (working for a Canadian visual effects company), skip (making his own shorts and posting them online) and jump to the big screen. His follow-up, Elysium – filmed on the world’s second-largest rubbish dump in Mexico City – is about the haves and have-nots.

His treatment of serious subjects in a somewhat ‘popcorn’ manner is deliberate.

‘There are loads of sociopolitical, racial, class and future-planet situations that really interest me, but I’m not interested in making a film about them that feels like reality, because people view that in a different way,’ he told the LA Times.

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