Disney-Pixar’s “Float” by Bobby Rubio breaks new ground highlighting Filipino-American characters

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Disney-Pixar Float
“Float” is a moving story of how a Filipino-American father shields his son from discrimination. Screengrab of Float trailer.

“Float”, a Disney-Pixar Sparkshorts film written and directed by Filipino-American Bobby Rubio, has broken new ground as the first Pixar work to feature Filipino-American animated characters.

Audiences worldwide were treated to “Float” as it was offered with the arrival of the Disney Plus streaming service in November, after being teased early in 2019 together with other short films in the experimental Pixar Sparkshorts.

Rubio revealed that the original pitch and storyboard of “Float” features a Caucasian father and son. “A co-worker saw the cover and said, ‘Bobby, this is your story. The character should be Filipino American.’ I thought, does anyone want to see a Filipino American character? I had this unconscious bias,” Rubio tells Variety.

The short film “Float” also widens perspectives in terms of interpretations of the story through its metaphor of floating, whether it’s about color, race, gender, ethnicity or being unique.

The short film depicts the unconditional love of a parent beyond the struggles of parenthood as it entails a powerful and important story about acceptance, being able to love and celebrate people for who they are – what Rubio intended for the film as well as for his son. “I did not want Alex to think that I was ashamed. I wanted him to know that his dad loved him, and he was worth it. I wanted to empower him and empower children of color,” the Fil-Am animator told Variety.

Float is a heartwarming story of a father who discovers and struggles to understand that his child is different from other children because he floats. Instead of exposing him to judgment from the world due to his peculiarity, the father keeps his son out of sight.

Bobby Rubio’s “Float” is inspired by his own story with his son who has autism. Photo from Bobby Rubio.

Float creator Rubio shared in media interviews that his short film was inspired by his own experience with his son who was diagnosed with autism. Rubio admits he did not handle the situation well when he first learned of his son’s condition as he feared that his son would face discrimination.

In an interview with CBR’s Reuben Baron, a journalist with autism, Rubio expressed that it took him years to accept his son’s autism diagnosis. “I know the short lasted only six minutes, but it took me a while before I could accept my son for who he is. I remember in the beginning, much like in the short, I was trying to hide that he has autism. He sometimes would spin and I’d be like ‘Hey Alex, can you stop that? Can you stop spinning?’ And now I accept that that’s Alex. He spins because that’s what calms him down, but it took me a while before I was able to accept that,” he added.

Bobby Rubio, who also illustrates for Marvel Comics and has created Filipino superhero characters, has worked at Pixar as a story artist since 2012 and has contributed to “Inside Out,” “Incredibles 2” and “Brave”. “Float” is his directorial debut.

SEND congratulations and cheers to Bobby Rubio and his son for inspiring the world with “Float”!

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