Christopher Ashley on Neill Blomkamp

Hard-hitting 'District' admired as sci-fi 'docu'

“District 9” is a sci-fi documentary, set in a fictional South Africa, where poverty-stricken aliens are held in segregated camps. I was a childhood sci-fi geek. My lefty parents spent many an evening arguing about the tragedy of apartheid. So if there was ever a target audience for “District 9,” I’m it. I love this film, and I think Neill Blomkamp’s direction is extraordinary. He seamlessly combines sophisticated CGI effects with handheld HD and lower-quality news footage, giving the whole project a scrappy urgency. This is a mockumentary without the mockery. Blomkamp uses his science-fiction premise to make hard-hitting points about racism and poverty without ever seeming preachy or earnest. When another director sees your work, jealousy is the highest compliment. And this one made me a little green around the gills. I wish I had made it.

Christopher Ashley, artistic director at La Jolla Playhouse, directed the current Broadway production of “Memphis.”

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