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Alive in Joburg (2006)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,663 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 5 critic

An eerie tale of a close encounter of the third kind in Johannesburg.

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Cast

Cast overview:
Braam Greyling ...
Cop 1
Godfrey Seome ...
Cop 2
Dawie Ackermann ...
Afrikaans Professor
Sweetness Hlomza
Patrick Hlomza
Bennet Mogobithla
Zakiel Mogobithla
Jess Newing
Scott Donaldson
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An eerie tale of a close encounter of the third kind in Johannesburg.

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Genres:

Short | Sci-Fi

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Release Date:

6 September 2006 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Živi u Johanesburgu  »

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Quotes

Alien: We don't want to be here, this place doesn't want us... we have nothing, nothing.
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Referenced in Troldspejlet: Episode #42.2 (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Close encounters on another continent...
6 March 2010 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

It doesn't happen every day that an aspiring filmmaker is offered the chance to direct a big Hollywood project on the basis of a six-minute science fiction short. And yet that's what happened to South African director Neill Blomkamp, whom Peter Jackson chose for the subsequently abandoned Halo project after viewing a DVD of Alive in Joburg. It's easy to see what caught the Lord of the Rings director's eye: few shorts boast such ambition and originality.

Set and filmed in Johannesburg, also known as Joburg locally, the story is that of the population's encounter with an alien race. Naturally, the ETs are viewed as hostile invaders that have to be dealt with quickly and without mercy. Conflict is inevitable.

So far, so predictable. What, then, makes Alive in Joburg such an inspired achievement? The fact that most of it doesn't look like sci-fi at all, but rather newsreel footage of something more troubling than an alien invasion: racial conflict. Before the ETs are unveiled, Blomkamp's documentary approach has us believe that the interviewees are referring to human immigrants, not alien ones. Thus science fiction's ability to act as a metaphor is masterfully employed to establish parallels between a fictional close encounter and real-life ethnic struggles, with the unusual setting (for an SF story, that is) heightening the frightening sense of reality.

If one has to find a flaw in Blomkamp's gritty, hand-held examination of racism with an otherworldly twist, it would be the fact that the film is - no pun intended - too short, more premise than proper story. However, considering Blomkamp's ambitions must have been justifiably narrow at the time, such a misstep is easily forgivable, even more so with hindsight: with the Halo film shelved, the director was given a chance to expand on his original idea. And so the excellent District 9 was born...


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