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District 9 depicts a fictional world where extraterrestrials have become refugees in South Africa.

Back in 2006, Lord of the Rings genius Peter Jackson was put in charge of one of the hottest geek properties on the planet: Halo. It was his job to find the movie a director, and Jackson went with unknown, first-timer Neill Blomkamp. In fact, so impressed was Jackson with Blomkamp that he stuck with them, even when it stalled the project. Studios were unwilling to hand over the millions of dollars needed to make Halo a reality if a first-timer was put in charge of it, and Peter Jackson was unwilling to even consider going with someone else. Halo died on the vine.

Jackson’s decision to stick with Blomkamp may have torpedoed Halo but it hasn’t torpedoed Blomkamp’s career. Peter put his faith in Neil and found him something else, a movie called District 9.

So what is District 9? The answer is nobody knows. The film’s plot has been veiled in shadows, cloaked in a complicated viral marketing campaign. We know it involves alien refugees, living in Blomkamp’s own native South Africa. But that’s it. Is it Alien Nation or more like V? Or is it something else entirely? Clues to the film’s tone can be found in some of Neill’s earlier work. The director first found notoriety as a visual effects whiz-kid, producing a series of commercials and an eye-popping short film called Alive in Joburg.

Blomkamp’s early work used impressive photo-realistic CGI to showcase sci-fi stories. Alive in Joburg in particular is thought to offer clues to what we may see in District 9. Many believe that District 9 will in fact be based on his Neill’s Alive in Joburg short. That actually makes a lot of sense. The short explores the same premise outlined in the movie’s one sentence plot synopsis. Aliens refugees land in South Africa, and trouble erupts. Watch Alive in Joburg embedded below, for a taste of what Blomkamp may be up to with District 9:

With the movie still months away though, for now it’s all viral marketing. District 9 first started leaking into the public consciousness in the summer of 08, when strange looking signs appeared in front of the restrooms at the San Diego Comic Con, pronouncing the facilities “For Humans Only – Non Humans Banned”. Presumably the campaign’s human bias left Comic Con attendees dressed as Klingons, to go honorably in their pants.

Since then more tidbits have leaked online via various viral sites like D-9.com, Multinationalunited.com, Mathsfromouterspace.com, and the blog of a non-human named George at Mnuspreadlies.com. For instance the following protest video, may actually be footage shot for the film:

Even in the midst of the movie’s viral campaign though, real details about the movie remain sparse. We know that the movie’s title, District 9, refers to an actual district in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa for instance. And we’re all pretty sure that District 9 isn’t a cover name for a secretly being made Halo movie. For now though, everything about the movie remains shrouded in mystery.

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