Father’s Day (2017)

A recently widowed father visits his daughters in Los Angeles for Father’s Day with the hopes of saving them from their tortured artists’ lives.

Written and directed by Betty Ouyang, this short film explores family relations between two artist sisters and their more down to Earth father through one meal together. The family dynamics on display here are interesting to watch develop as more information is revealed about each member. Ouyang takes this subject and makes it distinctly hers by putting herself in the lead as well as in the writing and directing style. Here the subject is taken head-on and shown through intimate conversations. The way she approaches each discussion, each interaction is honest and done in a manner that is up close and personal for the characters thus pulling the viewer into their lives.

The cast here is kept small with a total of five characters. The leads of Betty, Angelita, and Larry are played by Betty Ouyang, Angelita Bushey, and Larry Wang Parrish respectively. Each of them does well with the material with the first two having the meatier parts playing artists weathered, but not beaten, by life in Los Angeles. The two show a connection to their parts most likely due to both of them being artists. They also show a sisterly bond that goes deeper than just the surface, giving their characters a familiarity with each other that gives a reason for them sticking together. Playing their father, Larry Wang Parrish comes off less in your face and more concerned. His performance is good by definitely less effusive. Together they create a small family unit that cares through adversity and challenges. The performances by the three leads help make all of this all the more realistic.

This slice of live for these two sisters and their father takes entirely place in (and outside a little bit) one apartment. The cinematography by Elnar Mukhamedyarov uses this tight, sometimes cramped, space and makes the most out of it. The scene with the sisters having a discussion in the bathroom shows the amount of skill required to shoot in such a tiny space while making it feel like the is tight but ideal for the scene with the discussion’s tension making the space feel smaller and smaller. The way this scene is shot enhances it and its impact on the viewer. In comparison, the outdoor scenes before and after the meal where the feeling is freer, more airy are shot in a more open manner, not just because of the space but also because of the stylistic choices like framing. The images creates by Elnar Mukhamedyarov give the film its mood as much as the writing, direction, and performances do.

Father’s Day’s intimate look into one family meal where a father wants to save his beloved daughters from their chosen artists’ lives was shot over the course of an 11-hour day, which may be the exact embodiment of the artist’s life. The film creates a realistic family dynamic through performances that come off as annoyed and a bit stressed from the two lead actresses while maintaining a sisterly love and care, something that is not easy to achieve. The father comes off as caring and patient but also not a push-over, giving him a particular strength as well. The love is there but like with many families, it comes with its difficulties which come across in the film as realistic and human. Father’s Day is a short with a lot of heart behind it’s façade and one that showcases plenty of talent from all involved.