A father discovers that his son floats, which makes him different from other kids. To keep them both safe from the judgement of the world, Dad hides, covers, and grounds him. But when his son’s ability becomes public, Dad must decide whether to run and hide or to accept his son as he is.

FLOAT is an heartwarming short film, with a strong and touching message, made with love and great quality. The father is portrayed by the director himself, Bobby Rubio, and, metaphorically, the story represents his true experience with a special needs child. Alex is playing outside when he starts to float, manifesting a special power: at first the dad is just impressed, but he soon starts to get concerned when the neighbors get scared and suspicious. As Alex grows, he never stops floating and his dad keeps him inside the house, hidden from prying eyes, in the dark. The dad himself looks like he became the shadow of himself and, when he needs to take his child outside, he takes as many precautions as he can to avoid Alex floating, and tries not to be noticed by anyone.

However, the precautions are useless: Alex escapes and starts floating happily between the children and the parents in the playground. Everybody seems scared, concerned, look at him suspiciously. As the dad rushes to take him away, the child has a tantrum and starts screaming, and that’s when the only line in the short film comes up. Why can’t you just be normal? After this scold, Alex stops floating and starts silently crying. That’s when his dad holds him into his arms and takes him to the swing, where he starts swinging without caring of anybody in the playground anymore. Alex feels free to float again, and his dad is not concerned about hiding him. Not anymore.

FLOAT was made for Pixar’s “SparkShorts” Program and Rubio though it could be an interesting chance to tell his own and his son’s story: in fact, his child has autism. The plot of the short films evolves around how the father perceives his son: at first he has no restrictions, but everything is changed by the stares of the neighbors, people chatting about the family, the judgement glances upon Alex. The man has then to decide between caring too much about what other people think and ignoring them. Another important thing that FLOAT does is depicting Filipino-American characters, bringing in more representation on screen. As said by Rubio himself, he started storyboarding with Caucasian characters, but was then convinced to change them by his co-workers.

The quality of the animation just leaves the audience speechless. The characters talk without talking, with perfect facial expressions, with body language, movement, with their eyes. FLOAT is a small gem of quality animation, with an empowering story that delivers a significant message: be yourself and love you for what you are.

Title: FLOAT
Director: Bobby Rubio
Country: USA
Year: 2019
Running time: 7