Vancouver Film School (VFS), Canada’s premier post-secondary entertainment arts institution and one of the most distinguished in the world, is thrilled to congratulate VFS graduates Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell on the four Academy Award nominations awarded to their acclaimed film District 9, as announced this morning by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
District 9, a break-out hit directed by VFS 3D Animation & Visual Effects graduate Blomkamp and produced for under $40 million, is a nominee for Best Picture – a nearly unprecedented honour for a sci-fi film. Blomkamp and VFS Writing for Film & Television graduate Tatchell are also on the 82nd Academy Awards ballot for Writing (Adapted Screenplay). The film received two more nominations, for Visual Effects and Film Editing.
“I remember sitting in class [at VFS], fantasizing about getting a script actually realized on the screen,” Tatchell says. “When District 9 came about and I was lucky enough to have a feature-length script made — and in my opinion, made well — I didn’t think it could get any better than that. I certainly didn’t even dare to think Oscar nominations! I don’t think I’ve missed a single Oscars since I was seven years old, and to be actually attending as a nominee this year is ridiculous. I couldn’t feel luckier!”
“All of us here at Vancouver Film School are extremely excited and proud of Terri,” says Michael Baser, Head of the one-year Writing for Film & Television program at VFS. “To say that her time with us in the Writing for Film & Television program was well-spent would be one of the great understatements of all time.”
Well over 40 VFS alumni worked on District 9. Most were responsible for creating the acclaimed visual effects, which seamlessly integrated alien characters, ships, and weaponry into a gritty, documentary-style world. Vancouver’s Image Engine handled much of the visual effects shots, in addition to local studios The Embassy and Zoic and New Zealand’s Weta Digital. The visual effects team represents over a decade of VFS Animation & Visual Effects graduates, and includes District 9 Visual Effects Executive Producer Shawn Walsh and Creature Supervisor James Stewart, who played a key role in developing the look of the alien “prawns”.
Since its summer release, District 9 has captured the attention of critics and grossed more than $200 million worldwide. It’s already been honoured with seven BAFTA nominations, a Golden Globe nomination (for the screenplay by Blomkamp and Tatchell), three Visual Effects Society Award nominations, and numerous awards from critics associations across North America.