The bully, the bullied, and those on the sidelines. The tale of the schoolyard David and Goliath is a common one across all cultures and in Marcos Durian’s Fish Head. He tells the story of a young Filipino-American named Milo (Madison Rojas) and his tormented life as the lone immigrant at school.
Milo’s class bully calls him “Fish Head” because he shared in class about the honor of receiving the fish head during his birthday meal at a recent Filipino family dinner. Every day after school, Milo is taunted and beaten by the class bully because he’s different. He doesn’t tell his mother what happening, Lorena (Aina Dumlao), because she wouldn’t know what to do. Her advice of “don’t let them pick on you” falls on deaf ears.
“…taunted and beaten by the class bully because he’s different.”
The bullying ultimately comes to a head as Milo takes matters into his own hands and fights back. A move that backfires thanks to the school’s helpless authority figures. Fish Head accurately captures the frustrations associated with bullying and the loneliness of not being seen or heard.
Overall, Durian’s Fish Head is a solid short all around. You feel what you need to feel to empathize with Rojas’ portrayal of Milo. He is the underdog to root for and find hope and inspiration in at the end. It also boasts a production that feels professional visually. There’s a good use of light and muted colors to create the right moods in his 80s Midwestern town. It’s a beautiful short from start to finish.
Fish Head screened at the 2019 Dances with Films and 2019 HollyShorts Film Festival.