Food for the Gods
|Food for the Gods|
|Directed by||H. Scott Hughes|
|Produced by||Zhou “Joe” Fang|
H. Scott Hughes
Patricia C. Hughes
|Music by||Yvette Lu
H. Scott Hughes
|Distributed by||Vancouver Film School (North America)|
|Budget||$ 8,000 CAD (est.)|
Food for the Gods (often referred to online as FFTG) is a 2007 Canadian short, science fiction, romance film from award-winning writer/filmmaker H. Scott Hughes. The film stars Yvette Lu and Danny Dorosh as two star-crossed lovers in a plot reminiscent of stories of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith. The film is based on a short story by Patricia C. Hughes. It is set in the year 2057.
In the protagonist role, Yvette Lu is "Sheenyana," a beautiful, mystic warrior and member of the fictional Kyontawa tribe—a post-Neolithic tribe of humans residing on a pristine forested world, presumably in the Alpha Centauri star system. In the story, the Kyontawa are the descendents of a highly advanced Asian civilization from Earth's forgotten history, which established a deep-space settlement on what is now Sheenyana's planet. Clearly, that high-tech civilization is no more and the Kyontawa's knowledge of it is limited to their religious mythology of "Bird Gods" who seeded their people from the sky. Their language (subtitled in the film) has similarities to Asian languages of Earth, particularly Japanese. After a NASA expedition lands in Sheenyana’s forest, Sheenyana saves the life of American astronaut Lt. Richard O’Conner (Danny Dorosh). Their connection is immediate and, before long, the two fall into a forbidden affair—the foundation of a cultural clash which will threaten to rip them apart. When Sheenyana’s psychic visions foretell a coming danger from Earth, they lead her to the anguishing conclusion that the only way to save her people may be to sacrifice an innocent man—and the love of her life.
- Yvette Lu as Sheenyana -- a beautiful Kyontawa warrior with powerful psychic abilities. She is a niece to the tribe's king and queen. The royal couple raised her after the death of her parents and she remains a trusted political and military advisor, aided by her ability to see the future. She is a mentor to her first cousin, Princess Xionko. After a NASA expedition from Earth lands in her forest, Sheenyana soon falls in love with American astronaut Lt. Richard O'Conner.
- Danny Dorosh as Lt. Richard O'Conner -- a United States Naval aviator, who pilots NASA's first faster-than-light mission to the Kyontawa homeworld in the Alpha Centauri system. Like the rest of his crew, he is stunned to discover another planet populated by humans, but he falls deeply in love with Sheenyana—and engages in an affair despite a warning from his commanding officer. Concerned for the well being of the Kyontawa people, Richard begins to question their mission on this world.
- Taka Hiro as Shogoto -- Chief or King of Kyontawa, he is the tribe’s monarch and presides over the Chief Council, the kingdom’s governing body. He has a wife, Shogami, and daughter, Princess Xionko, his heir. He and Shogami raised their niece, Sheenyana, after the death of her parents. He loves her dearly and looks to her for council—a source of envy for his own daughter, Xionko.
- Beverly Wu as Xionko -- the crown princess, she holds the official title of Her Royal Highness, Xionko, Princess Heir of Kyontawa. A beautiful young woman with a tendency towards pampered vanities, she is extremely jealous of her first cousin, Sheenyana’s, elevated standing with her parents. Ironically, she also shows signs of caring deeply for Sheenyana and looks up to her as an older mentor. But it is her impulsive and manipulative nature that gets the best of her when she decides to expose Sheenyana’s affair with Richard, steal a laser weapon (nearly killing herself in the process), and plunge two sides into a cultural clash that could rip Sheenyana and Richard apart...or worse.
- Tara Pratt as Dr. Denise Hanson -- a Canadian medical mission specialist on the NASA crew. She confirms that Sheenyana’s DNA is human/homo sapiens. There are hints that she may harbor an attraction for Richard, but she shares Richard’s concern for the plight of Sheenyana’s people.
- Shaker Paleja as Lt. Cmdr. Monroe Bellwood -- a by-the-book US Navy officer, he is the mission commander of Earth’s first faster-than-light mission to a world outside the Solar System. Like any C.O. his primary concern regards the safety of his crew and the success of their mission. Bellwood is unprepared for Richard’s first contact encounter with an alien, but human woman on a planet light-years from Earth. Especially when it is revealed that she may be royalty, he warns his lieutenant to “keep it in your pants.”
- Yuki Morita as Shogami -- queen of the Kyontawa, wife to Shogoto, and mother of the crown princess, Xionko. She is a matriarch very much in the Asian tradition. She raised her niece, Sheenyana, when Sheenyana’s parents died, and loves her dearly—a source of envy for Xionko, who sometimes feels slighted by her parents in favor of her older cousin.
- Amanda Louie as Ree -- a six-year-old Kyontawa child and member of the Kyontawa royal family.
Reception & Production
Featuring a majority Asian cast, Food for the Gods premiered on Canadian cable, Shaw Multicultural Channel, Sunday, May 25, 2008, as part of SMC's and ExplorASIAN's (a Vancouver-based Asian heritage organization) salute to Canada's Asian Heritage Month, which takes place each May. It aired at approximately 10:00 PM Pacific Time as part of a two-hour block, 9:00 PM to 11:00 PM (the Sunday Movie of the Week timeslot), under the program title, Filmmakers Showcase: Roots & Passages—an anthology of short films selected by ExplorASIAN and Shaw Multicultural Channel for their reflections on Asian history and culture (either historical or fictional). SMC aired an encore of the showcase at Midnight the following morning.
Food for the Gods has also been an Official Selection of the 2008 New Asia Film Festival in Richmond, British Columbia, an Official Selection of the 2008 Route 66 Film Festival in Springfield, Illinois, and an Official Selection of the Vancouver Asian Film Festival in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia on November 8, 2008. The film has garnered critical praise. During a May, 2008 Q&A session with three of the film's stars, Yvette Lu, Beverly Wu, and Yuki Morita, panelists at the New Asia Film Festival compared Food for the Gods to the romantic feature film, 2046, from acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai. The New Asia Film Festival describes Food for the Gods on their official Website:
Although it takes place in an otherworldly setting, the film is rich in Asian themes, including a backstory referencing prehistoric Japan, and a fictional subtitled language that is loosely derived from Japanese and other Asian language influences.
It was popular among festival judges at the Route 66 Film Festival for its poignant beauty and musical score, co-composed by the film's director, H. Scott Hughes, and the film's star and postproduction producer, Yvette Lu. The soundtrack features actress and singers Yvette Lu and Beverly Wu, singing in the Kyontawa language, accompanied by Chinese erhu master Xu Qian of the University of British Columbia's Asian Music Studies Department. On September 18, 2008, Food for the Gods was the only Route 66 Film Festival selection to appear on the front cover of "A&E," a publication of The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois. Food for the Gods first premiered October 19, 2007 at the Vancouver International Film Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.
FFTG was shot on Super 16 film, using Arriflex Cameras and Lenses, digitized and color corrected by Technicolor Laboratories, under the supervision of Director of Photography Steven Ye and cinematography advisor Ricky Choi. It displays in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 5.1 surround sound, mixed by Doug Woods at the VFS Sound Design studios in Vancouver.
Continuity with Crazy Old Woman
This film takes place in the same fictional universe as Crazy Old Woman, a previous short film written by H. Scott Hughes and directed by FFTG producer, Joe Fang. FFTG character Dr. Denise Hanson (Tara Pratt) is presumed to be granddaughter of Stewart and Terri Hanson, the characters featured in Crazy Old Woman. Denise Hanson, in Food for the Gods, also meets a fate somewhat similar to her one of her ancestors in the previous film, which is set in the present (fifty years prior). H. Scott Hughes, who directed Food for the Gods and also wrote both films, has referred to this as the Hanson Family Curse. The plots are, otherwise, unrelated.
Megami: Legacy for the Gods and Megami: Search for the Gods (Sequels)
Sees Far Pictures has announced the completion of principal photography of two separate sequel shorts, shot back to back, titled Megami: Legacy for the Gods and Megami: Search for the Gods, respectively. The release dates of both are currently unspecified. The producers refer to the independent short films as two separate "teasers" for a potential larger project, possibly a TV series, down the road. Both films, set seven years after events of the first film (placing the year at c.2064), again star Yvette Lu as protagonist "Sheenyana." Lu also serves as Executive Producer of both films, with H. Scott Hughes returning as Writer, Director, and Executive Producer. The teaser poster also gives above title billing to Beverly Wu, reprising her role as Princess Xionko, and Tomoko Hanawa in the title role as "Kyshiyo - the Megami." Megami: Search for the Gods introduces a new heroine from Earth, Canadian Air Force Maj. Denise Hinoki, played by Grace Chin.
Megami: Legacy for the Gods
Megami: Legacy for the Gods features international action star Stephen M.D. Chang, playing the film's primary villain, Kanukami. A brief synopsis on the film's website makes reference to Sheenyana anguishing over the actions she was forced to take at the end of the previous film—as she and Xionko must now secure technologies, including advanced weapons and a starship, left behind by the Earth astronauts. A rival tribe called the Tokono has amassed an army upon Kyontawa lands, led by Kanukami (Chang), the same man responsible for the deaths of Sheenyana's parents when she was a child. Kanukami's daughter, Shan'li (Caroline Chan), is the first to attack Sheenyana in an attempt to make a name for herself and find favor with her demanding father. Meanwhile, Sheenyana is also being psychically visited by a female ghost named "Kyshiyo" (Tomoko Hanawa) a beautiful "Megami," (Princess Goddess) who once ruled Sheenyana's planet when it was part of an advanced interstellar empire, 20,000 years ago. Danny Dorosh, Shaker Paleja, and Tara Pratt reprise their roles as the original Eagle III astronauts from Food for the Gods. Also returning is Taka Hiro as the Kyontawa king, Shogoto. The poster's tag line reads, "On an Alien World... When a Goddess dies, who will replace her?" The plot synopsis, and participation of Stephen M.D. Chang, best known for his action roles in film and television implies a more action oriented plot for the sci-fi film, compared to the more romance driven plot of the previous film. Megami: Legacy for the Gods is co-produced by Rainfield Films, Inc. in Canada.
Set partly on Earth, Megami: Search for the Gods stars a new character named Maj. Denise Hinoki, M.D. (Grace Chin), a member of the Canadian Forces. While attempting to discover what became of her astronaut friends from the lost Eagle III mission seven years ago, Major Hinoki uncovers an international conspiracy, which somehow threatens Sheenyana's planet, as well as the Major's own life. Tara Pratt (who played Dr. Denise Hanson in both Food for the Gods and Megami: Legacy for the Gods) returns to a different role, playing a villainous twin sister, Dr. Theresa Hanson, who will ultimately engage in a gun-slinging action showdown with the Major, according to the film's released production stills. Yvette Lu, Beverly Wu, Tomoko Hanawa, Taka Hiro, and Yuki Morita all return to their previous roles from "FFTG" and/or "Legacy." Nik Green, also a producer on the film, co-stars as a black ops mercenary, Codename: The Artist. The film's website specifically acknowledges the oddly similar names of Dr. Denise Hinoki and the previous Dr. Denise Hanson (from Food for the Gods and Megami: Legacy for the Gods), which may imply some sort of interwoven destiny yet to play out. Megami: Search for the Gods is co-produced by Global Authority Films in Canada.
Both sequels specifically name Sheenyana's planet as Alpla Centauri - Alpha II, which may mean the second planet orbiting Alpha Centauri A. Production stills from both films also display an "updated" look for members the Kyontawa tribe. While maintaining continuity with Food for the Gods, both "Megami" films show a tribe that is less Pre-Columbian in appearance and attire and more reminiscent of early Asian medieval. For example, Sheenyana's prominent feathers from the first film are now subtly replaced with a single metallic feather symbol worn on a necklace to denote her faith in Wakandan Tori (the Bird Gods). She wears a Chinese-inspired leather armor and wields a Japanese style katana sword, instead of a wooden dagger. She does, however (according to the captions on a series of production stills), make an appearance in her original FFTG costume during a flashback sequence set during the era of the first film—and her original wooden dagger can seen on her belt along with her current katana. Other “updates” to the Kyontawa include the riding of horses and utilization of guns and advanced Earth technologies left behind by the Eagle III crew. Princess Xionko (once again played by Beverly Wu) appears to have made a dramatic shift from a spoiled and selfish teen-aged princess in Food for the Gods to a matured and heroic warrior in both "Megami" films.
Although not appearing in either "teaser" short, the producers maintain that future installments of "Megami/For the Gods" will feature appearances by Method Fest Best Supporting Actress Nominee Giovannie "Pico" Espiritu, best known to TV audiences as medical intern Ludlow on NBC's ER, playing Sheenyana's late mother, Ichigo.
- Winner, Audience Favorite Drama, (writer) "Crazy Old Woman," Route 66 Film Festival. 2nd place, Audience Favorite Directorial Debut, (director, co-writer) "Food for the Gods," Route 66 Film Festival. Honorable Mention Documentary (producer, co-writer) "Duty," Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival.
- During dialog, Dr. Denise Hanson, a character in the film, mentions that they have landed over four light-years from Earth. Alpha Centauri is approximately that same distance from Earth.
- TV schedule for Asian Heritage Month on Shaw Multicultural Channel (from ExplorASIAN.org)
- "Food for the Gods" Release Dates on IMDb
- as reported by Yvette Lu and Beverly Wu.
- New Asia Film Festival, Official Site
- According to Linda McElroy, festival director, Route 66 Film Festival.
- Mackey, Brian (A&E Editor), "Route 66 Films Roll In," The State Journal-Register, A&E Section: front page, and Movies, p. 9A, September 18, 2008.
- Photocopy of A&E cover, The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill, USA, Sept. 18, 2008
- Technical Specifications for "Food for the Gods" on IMDb.
- Full Cast & Crew for "Food for the Gods" on IMDb.
- Movie Connections for "Crazy Old Woman" - IMDb
- Movie Connections for "Food for the Gods" - IMDb
- FFTG / M:LFTG Official Facebook Site
- FFTG II Synopsis and Teaser poster, "Food for the Gods" Official Site
- FFTG II Cast and Crew List, "Food for the Gods" Official Site
- Stephen M.D. Chang IMDb profile
- M:LFTG Synopsis Page, FFTG Official Site
- Giovannie Espiritu IMDb Page
- Giovannie Espiritu Official Site
- Film Posters, "Food for the Gods" Official Site
- disclaimer "Food for the Gods" Official Site
- Mattei, Mona "Sci-fi Drama Unfolds in Grand Forks" Boundary Weekender (newspaper), Grand Forks, BC, Canada, September 4, 2009
- Mattei, Mona "Independent Filmmakers Invade the Boundary" The Boundary Sentinel, Grand Forks, BC, Canada, September 2, 2010
- Food for the Gods at the Internet Movie Database
- Food for the Gods: The Official Motion Picture Website
- FFTG star Yvette Lu interviewed in Burnaby Now, May 24, 2008.
- Food for the Gods summary, translated into Chinese, New Asia Film Festival.
- Listing and summary in Route 66 article in The Illinois Times, September 11, 2008.