Read Watch Listen - 2021

The Bird Who Could Fly: Culture vs Conscience

By Jennifer Allen

Cast: Joe Seo, Vivian Bang, Jack Yang, and Rob Yang

Written by: Robert Munic & Raphael Sbarge

Directed by: Raphael Sbarge

It seems that in our post-modern society, the concept of the “Great American Melting Pot" that many of us grew up with has become a bit of contradiction. Somehow we all must discover that perfect balance between preserving cultural heritage and adapting to societal norms in order to survive.

It is this tension that pushed to the forefront within the short film, The Bird Who Could Fly co-written by Robert Munic and Raphael Sbarge. The story is shown from the perspective of Arthur Lee (Joe Seo), a young Korean-American attorney living with his mother (Vivian Bang) in an area of Los Angeles known as K-town.

We witness Arthur's struggles with family obligation as he communicates with each member of his family. His oldest brother Johnny (Jack Yang) is serving life-in-prison. His other brother Kenny (Rob Yang) is suffering from a debilitating meth addiction. Both have chosen to lead such self-destructive lives in order to cope with the gradual downward spiral of their mother's behavior. Arthur has then been given the task to be the 'good son' who must endure both his mother's increasing abuse and dependence.

The film interweaves a series of flashbacks into the narrative to offer some further insight into how each family member eventually reached their current predicament. And while these scenes do provide the audience a better idea as to why, they also remind us that teetering to one side or the other of a narrow emotional tightrope can have serious consequences.

The film initially premiered in 2017, and yet it feels all the more poignant to be redistributed 4 years later with our current climate so focused on Anti-Asian violence. At a run time of nearly 20 minutes, each frame is filled to the brim with spontaneous feelings from all over the spectrum. It touches something we all struggle with as parents, siblings, and children alike.

Photos by Peter Bennett


Jennifer Allen works at Saathee and is also a Podcaster, Blogger, Photographer, Graphic Artist, Gamer, Martial Arts Practitioner, and all around Pop Culture Geek.