20 Sep 2009

Nigeria moves to stop all screenings of District 9

4:31 am on 20 September 2009

The Nigerian government has asked all cinemas in the country to stop showing the film District 9 - produced by Peter Jackson - because, it says, it denigrates Nigeria's image.

Information minister Dora Akunyili says the movie, which was partly filmed in Wellington, portrays Nigerians as cannibals, criminals and prostitutes.

She says she has asked the film's distributor, Sony Pictures, for an apology for what she calls an unwarranted attack on Nigeria's image.

The film is about alien refugees who set up home in a South African shanty town called District 9, and Ms Akunyili says it clearly took aim at Nigerians.

'It's not like Nigerians do eat aliens'

But Malawian actor Eugene Khumbanyiwa, who plays a gang leader nicknamed Obasanjo - the surname of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo - says that Nigerians in the cast did not seem worried by the portrayal of their country, and in any case Nigerians were not the film's only villains.

He suggests that District 9, which depicts people wanting to eat aliens in order to gain their powers, should not be taken too literally.

"It's a story, you know," he says. "It's not like Nigerians do eat aliens. Aliens don't even exist in the first place."