Psychedelic noodles on offer in fictional futuristic small-town Saskatchewan
Saskatoon-born animator creates three-minute film as part of CBC's Keep Calm and Decolonize project
Eating at a futuristic, psychedelic noodle house may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of small-town Saskatchewan.
But that's the world Saskatchewan-born animator Howie Shia has created in his new short film, Marco's Oriental Noodles. The film is set in an Asian restaurant in the year 2037 in the fictional town of Longbrook, Sask.
"Science fiction, generally, tends to be about urbanism and dense, dense big cities – mega cities," he told CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend.
"And there's this sort of lack of representation of smaller communities, rural communities – the people and their stories and their environments. And that seemed like kind of a jarring judgement on the part of our artists, to sort of ignore that experience as if that didn't exist in the future."
Shia is a Toronto and New York-based illustrator, animator, writer and director who was born and raised in Saskatoon. He hand-drew Marco's Oriental Noodles in the summer while back home on the Prairies.
One of the inspirations for his film is how Saskatoon is changing and how the present-day city differs from what he remembers a child.
"I liked pursuing sort of this idea of what is this place of the future. It's not going to just turn into Toronto. It has its own identity and will continue to, I think," he said.
Keep Calm and Decolonize
Shia is a first-generation Canadian whose parents moved to Canada from Taiwan in the 1970s. His film is part of a CBC project called Keep Calm and Decolonize.
As Canada marks 150 years of Confederation, five filmmakers responded to Buffy Sainte-Marie's call to "Keep Calm and Decolonize" and offer an alternative vision. From shadow puppets to documentary, their stories explore what a "decolonized" Canada might look like.
Series curator Jesse Wente compared Shia's small town of the future to Blade Runner, noting it mixes "futuristic hallucinogens with diner food. It's a heady mix, as Shia draws us into a refracted future where food both sustains but also extends, and where what we eat can be central to notions of decolonizing the mind and body."
Shia's new film runs for three minutes and he hopes "it's strange enough, in a good way, that it just starts people thinking, 'What was that about?' "
"You never get sort of to the bottom of a song. My hope, I think, is that is sits there in their heads that way."
Shia's previous films have garnered acclaim and awards around the world, including the Tokyo Anime Fair 2007 Grand Prix for Flutter and a CSA nomination for his 2015 short, BAM.
with files from Saskatchewan Weekend