After her daughter Yoshiko’s Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, and her husband’s overseas military deployment, Saki Omura is finding life harder and harder to manage. Too ashamed to burden others and too proud to ask for help, Saki faces the now-daunting task of giving her daughter the best life possible.
To graduate from my high school, students were required to do 12 hours of community service a year, or 48 total hours. I volunteered with an organization called The Friendship Circle, which pairs up volunteers and special needs children for social visits, to provide recurring social connection for kids who struggle to establish personal connections on their own. By graduation, I had spent over 200 hours of community service with The Friendship Circle.
Another constant in my high school life was Japanese language. I studied Japanese for four years under the same teacher, Mieko Avello -- who I called "Sensei." Sensei was that exceptional teacher whose class you looked forward to, who created a community where students wanted to learn, and who motivated us to go above and beyond in the classroom. Words cannot describe how much Sensei’s students admired her.
Nowadays, I'm out of college, in a serious long-term relationship, and thinking about my future. My partner and I occasionally talk about whether or not we want kids, and I'm reminded of my time volunteering for The Friendship Circle. I'm reminded of how grateful parents were to have a young person there who understood their situation and empathized with them; someone to give them a short break every now and then. I'm also reminded of the prevalence of disability in my life: I have a cousin on the autism spectrum, a neighbor with severe physical and neurological impairment, a childhood friend on the autism spectrum, and a sibling with sensory issues who was misdiagnosed as autistic.
The prospect of parenting is scary enough, and the idea of parenting a child with special needs can be overwhelming to even think about. I witnessed the struggles first hand, and I was both fascinated and in awe of the unwavering and unconditional love displayed by parents caring for special needs children. I knew I wanted to explore that further in a film.
And so, the research phase began. I started volunteering again, and travelled back to my hometown to interview the parents of kids I had visited for The Friendship Circle. During this time, I decided to stop by my high school and visit my Sensei. I told her about my plans for this film, and to my surprise she told me that, in addition to being an astounding educator, she too was an autism parent. After spending hours speaking with her about her life and experiences with her now-adult daughter, I knew that this was the story I wanted to tell. I am honored and grateful that she trusted me with her story, and I am excited to share it with the world: the story of a remarkable and great woman. The story of my Sensei.
— Brian Blum, Director/Writer of My Daughter Yoshiko
Saori Goda as Saki
Saori Goda was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. She started her professional acting career in Japan at the age of 18, and brushed up at HB Studio and Stella Adler after moving to NY in 2009. Her TV debut was as Janet Fujimoto on Monumental Mysteries of Travel Channel which led to a number of roles in the following years, including Love Your Selfie (NBC), films “A Man Full Of Days” (Related Parts), “Cocktail Party” (Global Film Network Inc), Disney Vacation Club Video and “My Daughter Yoshiko”
Introducing Mei-lin hosang as yoshiko
Mei-Lin Hosang is a Asian/Hispanic Actress from Miami, Florida. She is a model, and actress known for The Beach Bum (2017), My Daughter Yoshiko (2019) and Unboxed (2018). Besides doing modeling, commercials and films, she enjoys gymnastics, hanging out with friends, and playing the piano.
Yoshi Amao as Hideyo
Yoshi is an Actor/Emcee/Samurai Sword Artist and Director of Samurai Sword Soul theater company. TV: “Blacklist” (NBC), “Billions” (Show Time), “White Collar” (USA), "Samurai Sportsman" (OLN) "The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" (NBC), “Japanizi Going Going Gong” (Disney XD), FILM: “Beneath Fiery Skies” (Dir. Nick and Adam Hayes), “An Ideal Marriage” (Dir. Ted Sharks), “8:46”(Dir. Jennifer Azano) , Ai (Dir. Raffi Asdourian) THEATER: "Deadly She-Wolf, Assassin at Armageddon!" (Japan Society/ Mandell Theater, Philadelphia/La MaMa Theater)
Rika akanishi as kazuko
Rika was born and raised in Kyoto, J apan. She started her acting carrier at age of 18 studying at Kyogei, one of the oldest drama company in Kyoto. In 1995, she moved to New York City to pursue her acting carrier in America and graduated from Hunter College. She has been performing in various off-off-Broadway shows (The New World Order, Hanjo, Luna), feature films and shorts (My Daughter Yoshiko, Cocktail Party, The Party Beyond Obama, Birth Day), web series (Hodo Buzz, Rack & Ruin), TV shows (The Perfect Murder), and several TV commercials.
Amy hoerler as Cheryl
Amy Hoerler is an actress based out of South Florida, working mainly in the independent film community. Amy studied under her teacher and mentor, Mr. Burt Reynolds, at the Burt Reynolds Institute until his death (2010-2018). In addition to being a Master Acting Graduate of the Burt Reynolds Institute, Amy also studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City. She continues to hone her skills as an actor and works on projects she feels passionate about. Visit www.AmyHoerler.com for more information.
Also starring: Francine Birns | Evan Gitlin | Fern Katz | Craig Dearr
Brian Blum - writer/director
Brian is a NYC-based award-winning director, writer, producer, sound mixer, and programmer for the Miami Film Festival. Before receiving a BFA in Film and Television Production from NYU's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, Brian honed his filmmaking skills by making commercials for his high school’s video PA system. Through this he met his Japanese teacher, Mieko Avello, whose story inspired My Daughter Yoshiko. His website can be found by clicking here.
Hamilton yu - cinematographer
Hamilton is a NYC-based DP, who has shot films that have gone onto festivals such as Miami Film Festival, Short of the Week, BAFTA Shortlist and Cannes American Pavilion.
Kent Morita - cowriter
Kent is a bilingual writer (Japanese, English) and a graduate of NYU. As a freelance writer and voice actor, he has worked with various clients including Amazon and Zeal.com. Most recently, at Google, he designed the personality and wrote lines for the Japanese Google Assistant.
David e. munz-maire - producer
Cosmopolitan in nature, David E. Munz-Maire is an alumnus of the prestigious NYU: Tisch, earning his B.A. with honors in Film & T.V. with a focus on Directing, and Minors in Psychology and Producing. This native Alpine’s passion for directing led him to pursue a Masters in Directing at the School of Visual Arts. David co-founded AireBedd, a banner under which he's garnered hundreds of laurels and awards for his various short films and music videos, and produced content for LVMH, Red Bull and the Leslie-Lohman Museum, amongst others.
Bryan Benitez - producer
Bryan is a Miami-based film producer and graduate of Miami Dade College’s film program.
Ryan beharry - producer
Ryan is a Miami-based filmmaker and graduate of Miami Dade College’s film program.
Executive Producers: Mieko & Aika Avello, Alexander & Nora Falk, Lori, Barry & Mallory Blum, Lewis & Cydney Collier, Michael Hill, Michael Beddome, Brian Leitten, Tadashi Mitsui | Editing: Carlos Pérez Segarra | Casting: Kathleen Vissichelli-Hanley, Joan Peña | Music: Aaron Kenny | Colorist: Oliver Eid | Sound Design: Keller McDivitt | 1st AD: Christine Vorsteg | 2nd AD: Michelle Ryan | Script Supervisor: Jesse Godinez | Script Doctor: Alia Azamat | 1st AC: Saif Al-Sobaihi | 2nd AC: Benito Sanchez | Camera PA: Julianna Cadavid | DIT: Jonathan Cuartas | Gaffer: Omar Nasr | Swing/Truck: Sergio Gallego | Key Grip: Michael Cuartas | Best Boy Grip: Kevin Guzman | Sound Mixer: Matthew Bunker | Boom Operator: Art Bustamante | Production Designer: Ecegül “JJ” Bayram | Art Director: Jessica Rosales | Prop Master: Lucinda Covington | Art PA: Alex Lambert, Brian Botta | Art Photographer: Joe Zakko | Graphics: Josh Depew, Nick Burns | HMU: Caro Paez | Additional HMU: Peter Borbely | Hair Designer for Rika Akanishi: Jay Goldsmith | Production Assistant: Ariadna Saenz, Bryan Guzman, Starr Tribue, Samuel Muñoz, Daniela Garcia | Behind The Scenes: Josh Liberman, Krysten Llamas, Gabriel Herndon