SXSW 'Broken Bird' Review: Coming-of-age short sweetly depicts embracing mixed identity through Birdie’s hair

'Broken Bird', one of the feature short films to be selected by SXSW is about a biracial Jewish girl a day before her bat mitzvah


                            SXSW 'Broken Bird' Review: Coming-of-age short sweetly depicts embracing mixed identity through Birdie’s hair
Chad and Birdie (Brokenbirdfilm.com)

'Broken Bird', a short film directed by Rachel Harrison Gordon is about a biracial Jewish girl, Birdie (Indigo Hubbard-Salk). The short depicts one day of her life, a day before her bat mitzvah, and her struggle with where exactly she belongs in the grand scheme of things. She is with the rabbis preparing for the big day, her beautiful hair is treated and straightened in advance for the big day. However, none of this seems to make her very happy. 

Especially, the hair. She is uncomfortable with it and when her mother tries to appreciate her look, she gets frustrated. Her parents are not together, but Birdie does spend time with her father. Like right now, when her father takes her out for a meal and that's when we learn what Birdie has a problem. Birdie doesn't like the blessing that she has been assigned to recite. She confesses this to her father and he asks her why she should be reciting a blessing that has been assigned. She can change it up and do what she wants, can't she? He iterates that they won't be able to stop her in the middle, so she should just improv. 

A still of Birdie from 'Broken Bird'. (Screenshot)

Birdie likes her dad's company. He reminds her of some of the things in her life that she enjoyed, like the music. It is only after being reminded about the music and how much she loves her dad does Birdie get the courage to invite him back into her life. She invites him to her bat mitzvah and his smile at her invitation explains how happy he is with her. He then gifts her a fake Louis Vuitton bag. Birdie is aware that her bag is fake, but that doesn't really matter to her. 

Her time with her father, the music -- all of it only reminds her that there is a part of the identity that she feels is being erased. It is that part of her life that Birdie takes control of. She finally does her hair the way she wants and with this, she begins to control her life too. She is young and with this first step, Birdie begins to feel a sense of power in exploring and finding herself. Independence helps her be more confident of herself and that final moment where she leaves all of her inhibitions behind is sweet. 

'Broken Bird' was part of the line up at the SXSW Film Festival. 

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