Meow Chow, 1:00 (2020)
cutout stop motion, replacement animation, found footage manipulation
I created Meow Chow with graphic designer Naveen Hattis. The film was scheduled to be screened in June of 2020 at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal (postponed due to covid). Each of the films intended to be screened at the UN conference was created with in-depth research on the part of the filmmakers and communication with economists from World Resources Institute (WRI)—all boiled down to a 60-second piece. The films each tackled a subject laid out in one of the “blue papers” written by The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, a group of world leaders convened by WRI with the goal of creating paths toward a future in which ocean conservation and commerce are not mutually exclusive goals. Meow Chow addresses a human rights issue highlighted in the Panel’s blue paper on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing: the use of enslaved or heavily indentured people as nearly free labor in illegal fishing operations, particularly in the South China Sea.
Along with this animation, Naveen and I created a parody catfood label, bought the cheapest catfood we could find and relabeled the cans as Meow Chow. The sticker seems to be some new brand of poorly-designed, bargain-barrel catfood, but if you look closer at the tiny text you’ll see slogans like “Somehow still only 38¢” and ingredients such as “Debt Bondage,” “Human Trafficking,” and “Unenforced International Laws.” The can also shows a web address for the Meow Chow website and features a QR code that directs to the website.

We left the Meow Chow website online for two years, but it is no longer active. Like the animation and the catfood cans, the website pretends to sell you catfood with garish design and obnoxious pop-up ads, but in reality directs toward a variety of sources providing more in-depth information on the plight of people forced to work on fishing boats, including the blue paper on IUU fishing, documentary footage, and this incredible series of New York Times articles by Ian Urbina.
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