Bicultural: Collision of Family and Self

Learn about the inner conflict of the ‘Bicultural’ family’s perfect daughter. Which would she choose—her family or her own identity?

(Image: GagaOOLala)

“Bicultural” is an award-winning short film starring and written by Filipino-American activist Rachel Leycon, with Katie Lynn Stoddard and Topher Park as supporting cast members. It tells the story of a young woman torn between living her world as the perfect daughter of an Asian household or living her world the way she wants it to be.

 

WARNING: Spoilers alert. Read at your own risk.

The screen opens to Grace, played by Rachel Leycon herself, on the roof of her car while staring at the night sky, explaining to the viewers how when two stars collide, they either become a black hole sucking everything apart or merge as one harmonious unit. And while she has not seen what happens when two worlds collide instead, she feels like she’s living in the midst of it, and it’s only a matter of time before a collision happens.

The next scene shows Grace’s Filipino family celebrating Lola’s 60th birthday at home. She is joined by her parents, cousins, and boyfriend, Junjie, whom her family is fully in favor of, even being the subject of Lola’s birthday wish as she hopes for the two to get married before she dies. Grace smiles awkwardly at Junjie as the conversation transpires while holding his hand. A little while later, Junjie leaves the dinner table and is seen being handed a small box by Grace’s father as the two of them share a glance.

(Image: GagaOOLala)

Over dinner, Grace’s cousin, Angelo, plays with a male companion teasingly and loudly, with Grace’s dad looking at them sharply while gripping his utensils. He asked Angelo to help him get the beer, only for him to corner him in the hallway and reprimand him harshly, saying “No touching!” even dropping the F word (seriously? In this era, Uncle?) and threatening what he would do should Angelo and his partner show a display of affection again. Hearing the slight commotion, Grace tries to get in between the arguments and calm her father down. Her father walks out from them to get back to the family dinner as if nothing happened. Grace says sorry to her cousin, and Angelo just nods and smiles in acceptance and says he is used to it and that he is sorry for Grace, too. The cousins share a painful look at each other. Grace decided to get out of the house to get some fresh air.

Outside her home, a handheld firecracker was lit up as Grace received a text message from someone registered as “Love” on her phone instructing her to follow the light. Grace smiles genuinely for the first time and runs towards the anonymous hand holding the firecracker.

The anonymous person appears to be a woman (yes, it’s not her boyfriend that everyone loves, uh-oh), whom Grace excitedly called “Starr” and wished a Happy Anniversary as she jumped toward her open arms for a hug. The two share a kiss, revealing an intimate relationship between them. Starr prepared a half-hearted candlelight surprise for Grace as the dollar store already ran out of cheap candles and a fake rose bouquet to celebrate, declaring that she has more to show Grace as she tries to drag her away from her home. Grace hesitates as she knows that her family might miss her, but she agrees shortly. However, before they can even go, Junjie comes in and tells Grace that they have to talk after greeting Starr (I guess we can now conclude that Junjie is Grace’s beard). Grace tried to tell Junjie that they could talk later and asked him to cover for her, but she was startled when she saw a familiar item in Junjie’s hands. It was a ring, a family heirloom, her Lola’s ring. Junjie dejectedly said that Grace’s father asked him to propose to her daughter. Shocked by the sudden revelation, Grace is pulled away by Starr from her home before they can even talk.

The couple is seen running towards the city pier, enjoying their short time together. After their celebratory high, Grace finally gives her musician girlfriend her anniversary gift. A ticket to one of Starr’s gigs, which Grace will watch. Elated, Starr tells her that she has another surprise for Grace and that they should meet at 7 p.m. at her place. Grace hesitates, as she has another family thing to go to, but promises to leave early and meet Starr on time. Starr opens up about going together, but Grace says she doesn’t think it’s the right time. Starr had no choice but to accept the rejection.

(Image: GagaOOLala)

Later, Starr is woken up by a distraught Grace in her apartment with their supposed dinner and decorations left cold as it was already 11 p.m., making Grace break her promise to be there at 7. She started saying sorry to Starr, who looked disappointed in their situation. As Starr was about to get up from the couch, she finally saw the ring that Grace was holding nervously in her hands. Her Lola’s ring that Junjie received for a proposal. Starr finally realizes what transcended the family gathering which Grace sadly confirmed by saying there was already a date set (for the wedding, looks like a shotgun wedding). Frustrated, Starr probes Grace’s decision and asks her to choose between her and her family, which Grace says is unfair to her. Tension arises as the two let out their feelings toward the situation. Starr is tired of hiding their relationship, while Grace is still torn between keeping her world as a perfect daughter peaceful and being her true self with Starr proudly. Starr asks Grace to tell her family about them and come out, but Grace refuses, reasoning that it’s not easy. Exhausted from hiding, Starr said she couldn’t continue with the relationship anymore. Grace promises to fix it, but Starr has already made up her mind.

(Image: GagaOOLala)

Back in her car, realizations about herself finally hit Grace. Along with the flashes of her tight-knit family on the screen having dinner with one vacant chair and Starr taking her dinner alone with another plate set in front of her, Grace finally understands that while her worlds are indeed colliding, going against one another, and pulling her apart, there is still the force within her to make a decision and set it in motion.

Like a signal waiting to drop, a shooting star passes by, and Grace rushes back home. A decided look on her face as she faces her family (assumed), and us the viewers with a newly found belief in herself. Finally letting the force within her take action.

I, I need to say something.

(Image: GagaOOLala)

 

Catch this self-freeing short film “Bicultural” for free on Gagaoolala.

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