A 10-year-old boy picks up a magazine from the sand titled “Family Activities” with a smiling photo of two parents and a couple of siblings. He walks in the forest to his home in the suburbs.
He sits at the kitchen table, touching the magazine on his lap. His father, the gray llama, walks into the dining room as his mother places his dinner in front of him. Her mother slices into his hamburger. Pointing at the cover of the magazine, his shouts “why we can’t be them?” His father takes the magazine away from him and slaps his face. He yells at his parents to “stop!” and then runs out the door.
His dad takes the lamp and his mom gets a flashlight as they chase after him. Through lavender smoke, he sees a car and gets inside the trunk. Other llamas gather to help search. His parents watch the car drive away.
He opens the trunk and walks around Los Angeles. In another language, he asks where he is. People walk away from him. Around 10 p.m., he walks inside a bar and watches Fall Out Boy perform. As the noise grows louder, he runs again.
He finds himself at a carnival. The twinkling mult-colored lights of the Ferris Wheel and roar of the rollercoaster overwhelm him. He wakes up in bed and notices the glass of water shaking on his table. He walks halfway down the stairs and sees his human parents fighting. His father hits his mother on the face and he cries out. He covers his ears with his ears while looking at picture of his family.
A young man talks with a female classmate as they both sip some water during a game of Quidditch. She tells him she was a glad there was a game today. Otherwise, she would’ve stayed in her dorm room, drinking cheap wine. He says she did well on the economics test. She knew the material inside and out. “I hope so,” she says and they go back to the game.
After the game, they have late dinner. She invites him to her room. He says maybe another time. He returns back to his dorm and leafs through the “Family Activities” magazine. He has been carrying it around for about a decade. As a child, it was a source of comfort. He often fantasized the family on the cover, adopting him. They would celebrate Thanksgiving with a giant turkey and he would stuff himself on yams. His dad would teach him how to play basketball and both of his parents loved one another.
A teacher had seen a bruise on his arm and asked him about it. He made up an excuse, the lie he was supposed to tell. His teacher said she could always talk to him. One night, he heard his father threaten to kill his mother and put a knife to her face. He told his teacher the next day. The authorities got involved and they were finally able to escape. Every so often, he’ll get a collect call from his dad in jail and he hangs up.
Family has changed for him over the years. It had to. Several of close friends from high school are family to him. Their parents helped his mother find a job and a place to live. They offered a place for him to spend the night and hot meals to eat. He visits his elementary school teacher whenever he can. She asks him about his classes and his mother. It may not be the family on the photo. However, they are the people who took him in and let him grow. Without them, he would’ve landed in jail like his father.
Directors: Brendan Walter & Mel Soria Year: 2017