By PATRICK V. MIGUEL
IN A SOCIETY where there is a socially-constructed notion of “normal”, anything that goes beyond it is often frowned upon or set-aside. People who are deemed “different” face struggles in their daily lives. As a result, these “othered” people live by the pressure to conform.
Introduced as the first Pixar film that features Filipino main characters, Float (2019), alongside other SparkShorts, is currently up for free streaming on Youtube. Directed by Bobby Rubio, Float is a short animated film that tells a story between a father and a “different” son as they both deal with the pressure to conform to normality.
Rubio dedicated the film to his own child who has been diagnosed with autism. However, in the film, the child’s condition is represented in a creative manner— weightless and buoyant in the air— hence the title, Float.
Similar to other Pixar films, Float’s artistic animation is of quality that never disappoints. The film has a smooth transition between the scenes and realistic illustrations of contemporary life. Furthermore, the characters’ facial expressions are accurately captured, showing how great Rubio is, not only in storytelling but depicting human emotions as well.
From beginning to end, the film shows good color choices that range from vibrant hues in outdoor scenes and dull tones in moments that show the father’s melancholy. Sometimes, both colors merge in one setting such as the father’s neutral clothes in a daylit park. This detail could simply imply that light makes its way through darkness and desolation.
Moreover, the film effectively “shows” the story rather than “tells.” It barely had any dialogue, yet the words uttered by the father leave a lasting impression. Most of the film’s storytelling relies on the facial expressions of the characters and the details shown in the frame.
The film never really mentioned that the characters are Filipino-Americans. Instead, it was shown in small details such as a coffee mug with the Philippine flag printed on it and of course, the tanned complexion of the characters’ skin.
Beyond the technicalities, Float was able to send out the message of embracing inclusivity through having characters who are not often represented in mainstream media. It especially represents the diaspora in America, wherein Filipino-Americans are united into a community.
The message of the film simply shows how “othered” people are often pressured into conforming to the socially-constructed idea of normality. As seen from the rocks being shoved inside the child’s backpack, it symbolizes how carrying this burden pulls them down and stops them from being truly free.
In the end, Float is a film that hopes for a society that is more inclusive. As such, when the father finally let his child float out in the open, he whole-heartedly embraced his child’s condition. A heartwarming story of acceptance and deviance to conformity, Float ended to prove that it is okay to be different. After all, inclusivity ensures that there is indeed a bright future for the ones who can “float.” F