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Digital Participation – Film Review: District 9 (2009)

Link to the official movie website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/district9/

District 9 (2009) is a film directed by Neill Blomkamp who is South African and also co-wrote the script. I found that this film was inspired by events that happened during the apartheid era in South Africa:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_Six

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Residents_of_Joe_Slovo_Community_v_Thubelisha_Homes

How people were forced to leave their homes, evicted from the place that was the foundation of their entire lives was terrible. A main theme that I saw in this film was xenophobia through speciesism (which I discovered is an actual term and not something I coined while watching this even though I thought I did for a solid two minutes before deciding to Google it) similar to racism. The aliens were being called prawns which was described in the film as a derogatory term meaning “bottom feeder, one who scavenges the leftovers”. After twenty years, there was public pressure for the removal of the aliens who had simply lost leadership and wanted to return home with no way of doing so.

For the design of the aliens, I would have to say that their features can be mostly characterized as those of an anthropod. Their eyes are what stood out to me for a lot of the emotion that they evoked was told through the eyes which exhibited anthropomorphism besides walking on two legs and not four or eighteen.

What I loved the most about this film is how it took on the form of a documentary. One particularly style that was incorporated was cinéma vérité, which means truthful cinema. The camera-person is an observer, filming whatever is happening before him or her which sometimes includes interaction with those in front of the camera. This gave rawness to District 9. And even still when there was not a physical camera-person there, the hand-held camera or shaky camera cinematographic technique was used, and I felt right like I was in the very setting being shown.

This film created a lot of controversy among Nigerians for how they were depicted as criminals and cannibals. In the film, the Nigerians in D-9 ran various scams: selling cat food to the alien for exorbitant prices, interspecies prostitution, and dealing in alien weaponry. I find this interesting not only for specifically choosing Nigerians to be the group of people living in the compound area near the aliens which was considered a slum, but also given that Nigeria is known for the scam involving spam emails asking for money and bank information as stated in this article discussing affect of this film in Nigeria: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Movies/09/21/nigeria.film.outcry/#cnnSTCText

 

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Digital Participation – Film Review: La petite vendeuse de soleil (The little girl who sold the sun) (1999)

La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun) (1999) is directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty, a Senegalese filmmaker. The protagonist is a young disabled girl named Sili Laam who uses crutches to walk and begs in the city streets for money to help out her family. She decides to enter the occupation of selling newspapers which has been dominated by young males. In one scene, with her face superimposed on the printing of newspapers, Sili exclaims that what boys can do, girls can do too. I admire Sili’s self-determination and her character reminds me a little of Tambu from Nervous Conditions. Sili makes her way through the bustling city with confidence and stands her ground when looked at with suspicion for making a large amount of money or defending the newspaper she sells, Soleil, as her friend, Babou Seck, argues that Sud is better.

I like the non-dialogue scenes incorporated into the short film. Some scenes depict everyday life and there is a juxtaposition being the quiet of the town Sili lives in to the busy city with the motor vehicles zooming by. Other scenes feature music, specifically music coming from the boom box carried around by a boy in a wheelchair. My favorite scene would have to be when Sili and other girls are dancing down the road to the music and meet up with other kids who join in the fun. Then when they pay the boy to play more music, Sili puts on sunshades and smiles. This scene shows how happiness can be found in difficult times, that nothing should stop one from enjoying life even for a brief period of time, and music can bring people together.

At the end of the film it says: “this story is a hymn to the courage of street children”. I think this is fitting especially using the term hymn given the music that is played throughout the film. To me, this means that this story exhibits how there is no single story to what the life of a street child entails, how there are obstacles to overcome regardless of some sort of status one may hold over another, and that these kids have all learned how to build their own path without having to be told how to do so.