I’ve had the pleasure of watching Betty Ouyang’s short film entitled, Father’s Day. Available to watch on Amazon Video, this short stars three Asian-American actors: Angelita Bushey, Betty Ouyang, and Larry Wang Parrish. This film offers a peek into their lives as they all sit down to break bread on Father’s Day. Consider this is your official spoiler alert!
We are introduced to a father (Larry Wang Parrish) on his way to his daughters’ apartment somewhere in Los Angeles, California. He has an awkward interaction with their friendly neighborhood homeless man. This sets the tone to show just how out of place this dad feels in his daughters’ world.
He arrives and as they bustle to prepare dinner and starts to browse through their belongings and much to his dismay finds a stack of overdue bills and insect spray. He continues to wander around the apartment and picks up a framed photo. It’s a picture of himself and, judging by the emotional pang in his expression, his presumed late wife, the mother of his children. There is much to be said about the weighted pauses sandwiched between the vivid dialogue. As he looks longingly at the photo, I am introduced to his vulnerable side. We now see his judgmental dad armor suddenly lifted. Meanwhile, his daughters are in the kitchen bickering incessantly and quite boisterously.
The food is on the table and they all sit down to the meal. The two sisters bicker throughout the entire time, as the father periodically chimes in with disapproval and paternal concern. Though they are both in the entertainment industry, the sisters are different in subtle ways. Angelita is an actress, played by Angelita Bushey, who has a bit of a wild streak in her as her sister Betty brings up how she is a recovering addict. Angelita’s delivery is strong yet vulnerable enough to make her character honest and unapologetic. Their father complains in exasperation about how they both don’t have any stable jobs or boyfriends. This scene is where I get the sense that since he now parents his girls alone, he feels even more of a responsibility to make sure they are in a secure place.
Betty Ouyang is Betty, the strong-willed screenwriter who’s super defensive. As the writer and director of Father’s Day, Ouyang takes care to portray these characters through a realist lens. The sisters are creatives living paycheck to paycheck all in hopes of making it big in Hollywood. Genuinely wanting to help, their father suggests they move back home and work at his restaurant. Alas, the women are rooted in their convictions to stay in Tinseltown and stick it out on the road to notoriety.
I truly love how this film portrays these two “starving artists,” as it is hard to find Asian-Ams onscreen that don’t check the stereotypical, model minority box. They’re willing to struggle for their art and as a fellow Asian-Am creative, it’s refreshing to see someone like me on the screen. This short film tells me I’m not the only one who’s had to defend or explain their chosen craft to their family. I’ve had relatives matter-of-factly assure me that I’d “make no money doing art.” On the flip side, I’ve been blessed to have family members that share the creative Gene and do nothing but support me. “Father’s Day” validates all the second-, third-generation dreamers out there who stay up all night adding the finishing touches to that patting, spend their last dime on a headshot to audition for that dream role, pick up the late shift to save up to record that demo, and secretly use their temp job’s printer to churn out that manuscript. This film’s very existence is a testament to that exact energy.