Tristan Seniuk and Voleak Sip’s short film, Float, opens the window into the world of its protagonist, Rocky Mang. Set in 90s Seattle, Rocky is a first-generation Khmer-American, now hustling bootlegged perfume in front of a mini-mart, both to pass the time away and support his family. The short captures the exploits of this young man just “floating” from day-to-day.
Float has no grand point to make, as the movie is only interested in spending a day in the life of its main character. It’s a moving painting of life for a Khmer-American young adult. Rocky lives at home. He’s a huge fan of hip-hop and embraces it as his own. At night, Rocky can be found cruising the Seattle streets and always scamming on chicks. On this day, Rocky is pursuing a barista, Jeni-Mo Day, to go on a date with him. Rocky finds success thanks to his young sister.
“…captures the exploits of this young man just ‘floating’ from day-to-day.”
One thing that struck me about Float is that as an Asian-American, the American designation does not always mean “white.” Rocky’s life and the film’s setting is a blend of his Cambodian background with the diverse culture of urban Seattle, and Tony Teav’s performance captures this world beautifully. Both African and Latin American influences represent his experience in Seattle. Rocky’s home life revolves around honoring his family’s heritage, particularly on the date with Jeni-Mo, as well as his developing identity as a young man.
Float tells a fascinating story, but its cinematic tone is the short film’s real star. Its visual style is brilliant and engaging in that what you see on screen and hear from its soundtrack heavily influences what you think about Rocky. The short film’s colors, composition, and music all work together to create a sense of what the hyphenate experience is like for us—Asian hyphenates. Float may not have been my experience growing up in Los Angeles, but I get it. I think you will too.
Float screened as part of the Khmer Americana Showcase at the 2020 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Virtual Showcase.