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Arts & Culture

SDAFF Pick: 'In the Family'

Patrick Wang and Trevor St. John star as lovers in "In the Family."
In the Family
Patrick Wang and Trevor St. John star as lovers in "In the Family."

Redefining Family

Today's pick for the San Diego Asian Film Festival is Patrick Wang's "In the Family" (tonight at 7:15pm at the UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center).

Patrick Wang's "In the Family" is a gay drama about a six-year-old boy named Chip who has two dads, his biological father Cody and his second dad Joey (played by writer-director Patrick Wang). When Cody dies in a tragic car accident, Chip's family is suddenly redefined. Joey discovers that he has no legal rights to custody because Chip's aunt had been named in the will as his guardian. The film is a compelling tale about redefining family.

Here's the trailer:

IN THE FAMILY - At The 12th San Diego Asian Film Festival

Wang's film challenges not only preconceived notions of family but also a lot of the formula that often comes with gay dramas. Wang makes the characters strong and places them in the foreground so that the gay issues come up organically in the story rather than getting on a soapbox to deliver his messages. Wang also challenges preconceived notions about Asian Americans as well. On the simplest level it is unusual to have an Asian American with a Texas accent. It is also less common for Asian Americans to deal with gay themes as opposed to the more commonly tapped into themes of assimilation as either an immigrant or second generation Asian American. But what Wang realizes is that his themes are stronger when we care about the characters and the story first.