Pakistani-Canadian writer pens new digital series, ARTIES, to de-colonize Science Fiction

A concept trailer for a science fiction digital series, called ARTIES, will be released on March 1 st 2019. Creator Abdul Malik and producer Shant Joshi are offering to license the series to streaming platforms internationally. The project is represented by Ozi Menakaya at the Creative Artists Agency. The details can be found at arties.tv

Set in a police state coping with an Artificial Intelligence insurgency, ARTIES is a coming-of-age tale about a disillusioned teenage boy from the suburbs, MITCH, who enters an unlikely partnership with a freedom-fighting Indigenous woman, INDIRA, to evade government forces and deliver a necklace that holds the key to turning the tide in the Arties civil rights movement.

ARTIES was shortlisted for Sundance Institute’s New Voices Lab and for the Independent Filmmaker Project’s RYOT Next Generation 5G Storytelling Initiative. Framing the series around Mitch and Indira’s quest, creator Abdul Malik reveals the show to be a thoughtful treatise on decolonizing science fiction by implementing an inclusion mandate for the series and exploring topics of the refugee crisis, climate change, and the growing corrupt surveillance state, as audiences examine it through the lens of the present day pushed to its most logical and destructive extremes in the future. While science-fiction looks forward into future frontiers to conquer, the creators of the show are inspired to use the genre to right the wrongs of the past. ARTIES is structured as a South African-Canadian co-production with production to take place in the Eastern Cape, South Africa and post-production in Edmonton, Alberta. Both these lands and lands surrounding them were claimed unrightfully by force and as this series moves forward to production in these stolen lands, the show’s creators have made it extremely important to acknowledge and address that matter within the production and ethos of their series.

ARTIES has taken on an inclusion mandate requiring gender and racial parity within the leadership of the series. Of the twelve filmmakers behind the series, eleven are people of color, six are women, and six are Indigenous to the land they work in. The series also features trans non-binary alien performance artist Niuboi (aka Julie Ferguson) as PAVEL, an apex Artie character who accompanies Mitch and Indira on their journey.

ARTIES explores the topic of the broader global migrant and refugee crisis through the lens of Artificial Intelligent androids. Within the world’s history, Artificial Intelligent beings reveal themselves to human kind by washing up on the shore without a programmed sense of purpose. Alone and afraid, these beings seek refuge amongst humanity and slowly integrate themselves within human life, but are feared by a great number of humans who scapegoat the Arties for their own problems.

In the series, human-caused climate change results in the displacement, unemployment, and forced migration of humanity. As the common human being is forced to struggle through hardship as a result of this forced migration, an ideology grows questioning the value of accommodating and allocating resources for Artificial Intelligent beings who have no right co-exist amongst humanity. As production of the trailer took place during the extremely violent cold snap that shut down a majority of North America, the cast and crew behind ARTIES translated first-hand the disastrous effects of climate change to screen.

Within the world an authoritarian government has invested in thousands of low-flying surveillance drones that observe the lives of every citizen, searching for every last Artie and Artie sympathizer. Behind the authoritarian government and its surveillance drones exist the real power in the world, the oligarchic Mediators. The Mediators profit off the fear and conflict between humans and Arties. They send out agents, like the main villain MR. FACE, to ensure that the conflict endures but not to the point of a robot uprising or Artie extinction, just enough that humans buy into the hysteria and continue to obey.

Simultaneously a strong, unseen sci-fi world with a multicultural mandate in front of and behind the camera, and a metaphor for the migrant crisis and climate catastrophe we face today, ARTIES is science fiction at its sharpest and most socially relevant.

About Abdul Malik, Creator

Hailing from a family of Pakistani immigrants and with a degree in Film Production from Toronto’s York University, Abdul works full time as an Edmonton-based photojournalist and screenwriter, covering a beat in areas of labor struggles and political activism. Abdul’s short films have played internationally in North America, Europe, and Asia, and he worked on the highly popular young-adult web series TEENAGERS. Abdul’s work in his community extends to a variety of organizations in sectors of labor and anti-racism. He founded #HateFreeYeg, a grassroots initiative that aims to establish Edmonton as Canada’s largest, most comprehensive safe space.

About Shant Joshi, Producer

Shant Joshi is a queer Indo-Canadian film producer based out of Los Angeles & Toronto. His work is geared towards engaging audiences with stories rooted in the perspectives of the Other. He was recently Associate Producer on the feature PORCUPINE LAKE (TIFF, Busan, Rome, Outfest) and Producer on the Dekkoo original series I’M FINE (Newfest, Queerties). Joshi was Production Manager on the highly popular young-adult web series TEENAGERS.

Follow ARTIES on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as @ArtiesTV and under the hashtag, #ArtiesTV