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SA-set sci-fi satire huge hit in US

first_imgThe poster for District 9 Neill Blomkamp, District 9’s South African-born writer and director, speaks to fans about his movie at the recent Comic-Con convention in San Diego. (Image: Natasha Baucas, Wikipedia) USEFUL LINKS • District 9 official site • District 9 on the Internet Movie Database • QED International• Gauteng Film Commission RELATED ARTICLES • Top honours for SA movie • Movie draws public – and pirates • Bang Bang club lives on in film • New boost for Nollywood • 2010 opportunities for SA film • Hollywood studio for Cape Town • Rebate boost for SA film • Cape Town: Africa’s HollywoodSamson MulugetaA film shot on location in Johannesburg and directed by a young South African-born computer graphics whiz has taken the US box office by storm, earning the number-one spot and raking in US$37-million (R302-million) during its opening weekend on 14 August 2009.Directed by 29-year-old South Africa-born Neill Blomkamp, District 9 satirises the absurdities of apartheid in a science fiction account of extraterrestrials who become refugees in South Africa.Part of District 9’s success in the US can be attributed to a quirky and viral marketing campaign, which used billboards at bus stations to encourage people to call a toll-free number if they spotted “non-human activity”.What makes the film all the more remarkable is that it cost only $30-million (R245-million) to make, a small sum by Hollywood standards if one considers it took $250-million (R2-billion) to bring latest Harry Potter instalment to life.Obscure beginningsBlomkamp grew up in Johannesburg, moving with his family to Vancouver, Canada, when he was 17.Blomkamp dabbled in filmmaking while still at school in South Africa and later went on to specialise in animation and computer graphic design.District 9 began as a six-minute film clip, called Alive in Joburg, which Blomkamp wrote and directed in 2005 as a sample of his work.The fledgling director’s big break came when Peter Jackson, a New Zealand filmmaker, producer and screenwriter best known for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, approached him to direct Halo, a film based on a computer game.Although Halo never took off due to a profit-sharing dispute, it inadvertently led to bigger things, as an executive at Universal Studios who was overseeing the Halo project came across Blomkamp’s six-minute clip and showed it to Jackson.Jackson was impressed by Blomkamp’s work and asked him to turn Alive in Joburg into a feature-length movie. And thus District 9 was born.The involvement of Jackson gave Blomkamp instant credibility. In Blomkamp, Jackson saw a young man creating work based on his life experiences.“He saw South African society – both the good and bad of the society there – and he wanted to put a science fiction spin on what he witnessed growing up because he’s a science fiction geek,” Jackson told the Los Angeles Times at the recent Comic-Con convention in San Diego. “District 9 is not reflective of any movie that I can imagine. It’s really very original, which I love about it, and that’s totally Neill.”Science fiction satireDistrict 9 kicks off in the year 2010, 28 years after an alien spaceship arrives in Johannesburg. The craft hovers above the city without any contact, but eventually humans take the initiative and cut into the ship. There they discover a large group of malnourished and sick aliens and bring them back to earth. The newcomers are confined to an area called District 9 – a slum-like compound surrounded by barbed wire with no running water or sanitation.A documentary style with hand-held cameras and computer-generated images is used to create a fast-paced narrative.With its strong anti-segregation message and partly filmed in South Africa’s largest township of Soweto, the film is clearly a satire of apartheid. One District 9 website carries a Google Earth-like view of the district – using a satellite image of Soweto.The title District 9 plays on Cape Town’s District Six, best known for the apartheid government’s forced removal of over 60 000 coloured residents during the 1970s. The community was relocated to the Cape Flats 25km away.Although several parallels can be drawn to the apartheid era, Blomkamp says he tried hard not make the film a heavy “message movie”. He says he wrote the word “satire” in large block letters on a piece of paper and posted it in his office to remind that his first priority was to entertain audiences.It may seem incredible that Blomkamp successfully directed a Hollywood blockbuster before his 30th birthday, but he says he’s been working towards this moment all his life.“When I was 14 or 15 I got into 3D animation on the computer my parents bought me,” Blomkamp told the Los Angeles Times.“I was toying with practical effects – prosthetics, in-camera effects, models and photography. I knew I wanted to be involved in all that.”“I realised I could take all the ideas I had and have them make fun of themselves,” Blomkamp added. “At the same time, I could address all of the stuff I wanted to get in there.”Critical acclaimThe movie has opened to rave reviews, including one from New York Times critic AO Scott.“The South African setting hones the allegory of District 9 to a sharp topical point,” Scott said.“The country’s history of apartheid and its continuing social problems are never mentioned, but they hardly need to be. And the film’s implications extend far beyond the boundaries of a particular nation, which is taken as more or less representative of the planet as a whole.”Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune described the film as “an electrifying sci-fi ride that defies all the usual Hollywood clichés. It’s that rarest kind of film, magnificent trash.”Gwen Watkins, a media blogger for Bizcommunity.com, was also impressed by the movie, but for different reasons.“Last week’s media preview of District 9, the new South African sci-fi film, left most of us quite shattered,” Watkins wrote. “The film is deservedly gaining credit internationally but in South Africa it may well be greeted with uncomfortable reactions – the film unashamedly draws on our past and current view of species different to our perception of what is human and how we treat them.”South Africans starring in District 9 include Sharlto Copley, Blomkamp’s childhood friend and frequent collaborator.In the movie Copley plays the role of Wikus van der Merwe, the bureaucratic official from Multi-National United, the giant corporation charged with relocating the aliens.Other locals who star in the film are Vanessa Haywood, Kenneth Nkosi, Mandla Gaduka, Eugene Khumbanyiwa, Jason Cope, David James, Louis Minnaar and Sylvaine Strike.Michael Murphy of Kalahari Pictures, based in Cape Town, was the film’s supervising producer.Blomkamp is currently visiting South Africa to promote the film. It opens in local cinemas on August 28 2009.last_img read more

Castle of Good Hope celebrates South Africa’s diverse heritage

first_imgDuring Heritage Month, Cape Town’s Castle of Good Hope launched a legacy project that highlights 350 years of South African history, from colonial and indigenous perspectives.The Castle of Good Hope, South Africa’s oldest building, has seen its fair share of history, dating back to the 17th century. (Image: Castle of Good Hope)CD AndersonThe project is a collaborative effort between the castle and the Ministry of Defence and Department of Military Veterans to encourage young people to have an interest in and understanding of South African history.Completed in 1679, the Castle of Good Hope is South Africa’s oldest surviving building. Over the years, it has been an important landmark for civilian and military life in the city, as well as an ongoing testament to more than 350 years of tumultuous but significant South African history. The building is currently a cultural hub, offering art and cultural exhibitions, guided historical tours and the curation of historically significant artefacts.At the official launch of the legacy project on 22 September 2017, castle management CEO Calvyn Gilfellan announced that detailed timeline murals depicting the history of the castle and South Africa would be installed at almost 300 South African schools, taking these important events, people and aspects of the country’s history to young people directly and offering a contextual appreciation of how South Africa developed as a country over 350 years.Statues of famous prisoners amaHlubi king Langalibalele‚ Zulu king Cetshwayo‚ Bapedi king Sekhukhune and Khoisan freedom fighter Doman at the Castle of Good Hope. (Image: Castle of Good Hope)The original timeline mural will be exhibited at the castle itself, joining other popular exhibits that were set up during the castle’s 350th anniversary commemorations at the end of 2016. These include the Department of Military Veterans’ Centre for Memory, Healing and Learning and a set of statues depicting amaZulu, amaHlubi and BaPedi kings Cetshwayo, Langalibalele and Sekhukhune, as well as Doman, a 17th century Khoisan resistance leader, all of whom were once imprisoned at the castle.Also part of the project is an online interactive tour of the castle and its history: a 360° view that takes anyone in the world on a virtual tour around the buildings while giving them a history lesson along the way.Watch an introduction video to the Castle’s 350 Years in 360 Degrees exhibit here: Speaking to SABC News at the launch of the project, acting director-general in the Department of Military Veterans Max Ozinsky said it was important to memorialise the often overlooked history of the castle. “The colonial history of the castle and the country is well known… [but it is often forgotten] that many leaders of resistance were [imprisoned] at the castle… and many important military decisions regarding the country’s colonial wars were made in these rooms.”The school mural project, Ozinsky added, was aimed “to show South African history from all sides”. The timeline not only highlights the conflict between colonial rule and indigenous resistance, but also times of collaboration and co-operation between these forces for the good of the country.The installation of the murals in schools will be handled by SchoolMedia, a marketing company that provides positive brand marketing to South Africa’s young people. It is the brainchild of young South African entrepreneur Khethi Ngwenya.At the launch at the castle, Ngwenya told SABC News that during research for the mural’s timeline, collaborators realised just how much of the country’s early history was missing from the existing history curriculum taught in South African schools, but he added that hopefully highlighting these historical events and the important players would change that.For more information on the Castle of Good Hope and its exhibits, visit the website here.Source: SABC News, Castle of Good Hope, South African History OnlineWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Why Consumers Often Miss Simple Techniques to Resist Cybercrime

first_imgAI: How it’s Impacting Surveillance Data Storage Frank is a freelance journalist who has worked in various editorial capacities for over 10 years. He covers trends in technology as they relate to business. Follow the Puck The majority of cyberattacks aren’t large-scale, coordinated efforts to break through tough defenses and acquire valuable data; instead, they’re simple and opportunistic. A “hacker” might stumble upon someone’s password because they left it written on a sticky note, or they might take advantage of an account that was left logged in on a public computer.It can happen to individuals and businesses alike, despite the latter’s access to more resources and more valuable assets to protect. The strange thing is, most of these opportunistic attacks could be easily prevented with a handful of simple techniques, commonly known to the public. So why aren’t more consumers implementing these basic steps for cybercrime prevention?Why the Best Security Measures Are SimpleLet’s start by taking a look at some of the most effective practices a person can implement to reduce their likelihood of being “hacked,” and examine what makes them both simple and effective:Choosing a strong password and updating it regularly. “Strong” passwords need to meet several requirements, such as including a mix of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters, including many characters, and avoiding easy-to-guess patterns, like common words or birthdays. It’s also important to update those passwords on a regular basis, or someone can learn an old password and use it to gain access to all your accounts.Logging out of public devices. If you leave an account logged in on a public device, even someone with zero technical know-how can access your information.Securing your networks. Too many people leave their home Wi-Fi network unsecured, or use a public Wi-Fi network without taking any precautions. All it takes is one stray connection to compromise the integrity of this system.Choosing secure apps and services. Consumers aren’t the only ones that fall victim to hacking attempts; tech companies can also be targeted by hackers, and when they are, the event can end up affecting millions of people. Choosing only reliable tech products, from brands with a demonstrated history of security, can mitigate this threat, as can encrypting your most commonly used accounts.Avoiding common schemes. There are dozens of common schemes designed to gain access to your personal information. For example, phishing schemes tend to send a message mimicking a trusted source in an attempt to get you to reveal your password. One gullible response can make a thousand of these messages worth sending—and many of these schemes are easier to fall for than most people believe.The best analogy here is to home security. It’s true that even the most comprehensively secured properties can be taken advantage of; security cameras can be disabled, alarm systems can be turned off, and even the sturdiest windows can be broken. In that regard, no amount of money can keep you 100 percent safe. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, even basic security precautions, many of which are free, can greatly reduce your chances of being burglarized; locking your doors and windows at night, and preventing your home from seeming empty when you’re away can reduce the vast majority of attempted thievery.The basic principle is that criminals want an easy job. If you make things even slightly harder for them, they’ll be discouraged, and will likely move onto an easier target. You can put money, time, and effort into building more defenses, but they’re still no guarantee that you’ll avoid a committed attacker.When Knowledge Isn’t EnoughPart of the problem is certainly the knowledge that these strategies exist, and the understanding of how effective they are. Older populations, for example, may have little experience engaging with people online, and may be more likely to fall for a phishing scheme or some similar attempt to rob them of personal information.However, you’ll find that the majority of the population understands the basics about cybersecurity; they know which of their devices and software platforms are vulnerable, they know they shouldn’t give out their passwords to strangers, and they know their password shouldn’t be “password1234” or any similar variation.So why is there such an overwhelming number of people who disregard these basic protocols?Laziness. Part of the problem boils down to sheer laziness. When you get an email from an online service provider who recommends that you change your password, how often do you just ignore it? And if you take it seriously and change your password, do you feel a little irritated that the task is taking up your time? Do you change your password as little as possible so you don’t have to deal with committing a new one to memory? That’s because even though these security measures are simple, they still take up time and effort, and most of us don’t want to go through the hassle. It’s hard to convince people to go out of their way to do anything, even if it’s only a few minutes’ worth of effort.Forgetfulness. People who understand the importance of these basic security measures also run the risk of forgetting them when they’re needed most. For example, they might access their email account on a computer at the library, and leave in a hurry, forgetting to log back out. Or they might not have any automatic reminders to tell them when to update their passwords, so they never go through with the change. It’s also easy to forget the key signs of an email scheme if you’re looking at a convincing message; for example, if it looks like an email from Google is genuinely asking for your password, you might provide it in an effort to preserve your account.A false sense of security. Many people also forgo these simple measures because they overestimate their level of security. They’ve never been the victim of a hacking attempt or identity theft, so they don’t think there’s anything to be worried about. Playing to our analogy earlier, this is akin to never locking your car because nobody’s ever attempted to steal your possessions inside it.What Can We Do?So what can we do, as developers, business owners, and ordinary consumers, to hold ourselves accountable to better standards?Improving convenience. First, developers need to create devices and software programs that are responsible, designing them so that it’s convenient to preserve a heightened level of security. For example, a device that uses a fingerprint as a method of identification doesn’t require that users create a strong password, or change that password regularly; instead, they can rely on the fact that they have a sufficiently unique identification mechanism, and one that doesn’t need to be remembered or stored.Setting minimum standards. Developers can also do more to set minimum standards for consumer security. For example, they might refuse to let new users create an account unless their submitted password is at least 10 characters, with multiple special characters, or they may force users to change their passwords at periodic intervals. Some developers are reluctant to adopt such measures, because they’re often seen as annoying, but they can significantly decrease the risk of users falling prey to cybercrimes.Acknowledging the threat. We also need to take the threat of cybercrime more seriously, especially as our homes become filled with more connected devices. It’s nearly impossible to force people to believe that they could be the victim of a cybercrime, but we can make an impact by demonstrating just how easy it is to gain access to someone’s account—and explain the realistic repercussions. For example, tech companies could do more to write about and publicize the real risks of having an account hacked.As technology progresses, we’re going to encounter and rely on more and more vulnerable devices, so this problem isn’t going away. There’s no way to guarantee that people will take even the most basic security precautions on their own, so it’s our collective responsibility to help people make more informed decisions, and at times, force them to comply with higher security standards. That’s the only reliable path forward if we want a future where cybercrime is less rampant. Frank Landmancenter_img What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … How Data Analytics Can Save Lives Related Posts last_img read more

Phoenix holds on as Ginebra comeback fizzles

first_imgMOST READ Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Wilson, Matthew Wright, and Jeff Chan each had 19 points to lead the Fuel Masters while Jason Perkins added 12 points.Scottie Thompson led all scorers with 22 points for theGin Kings to go along 13 rebounds. Read Next Chung limps out of Aussie Open but has eyes fixed on future “It’s a good thing we were able to build a big enough lead,” said Phoenix head coach Louie Alas in Filipino. “I think we were almost too cautious of the lead and that’s the difficult part in a team where you’re still trying to build that winning habit.”Ginebra outscored Phoenix, 29-12, in the payoff period but the Fuel Masters’ lead, which was at 75-53 at the end of third quarter,  proved insurmountable.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThe Fuel Masters snapped a two-game slide for a 3-3 card while sending the Gin Kings reeling to their third straight setback a t2-3 .After slipping to a 26-25 midway through the second quarter, the Fuel Masters pushed the nitrous button and went wild on a 24-3 dash with Willie Wilson scoring six straight to cap it off and give Phoenix a 49-29 lead at halftime. Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding LATEST STORIES Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon Citycenter_img Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Ginebra Gin Kings vs Phoenix Fuel Masters. PBA IMAGESBarangay Ginebra’s comeback effort fell short as Phoenix held on to the 87-82 victory Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.The Gin Kings went on a blazing 18-6 run in the final 6:33 after falling behind 81-64, but it just wasn’t enough as the Phoenix had a big enough cushion to subdue the “never say die” spirit.ADVERTISEMENT Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers View commentslast_img read more