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A film by Joy Millana

United States

"A deeply honest coming of age story, DOJO GIRL fearlessly dives into loneliness, belonging and becoming. Brandi Taylor delivers an exceptional performance that drives the painful repercussions of racism and bullying home. A truth not to shy away from and a must see for all." 


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Yumi, (half Caucasian and Japanese) is the teenage daughter of a Japanese karate sensei. Yumi struggles not only with the loss of her mother, but being bullied and labeled the derogatory name 'Dojo Girl' given by her predominantly white peer group.

A note from the filmmaker:

My body of narrative work demonstrates my commitment to producing films about relationships with ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, and generational conflict themes, including the contrast between contemporary lifestyles and traditional cultural conceptions and stereotyping. I am particularly interested in the culture clash between first generation Americans and their immigrant parents who hold conservative points-of-view and high expectations stemming from the traditions of the Motherland.

Stylistically, I aim for my films to showcase fluidity and animation always through the lens, via the use of steadicam, dolly rigs, and/or shoulder mounts. I rarely utilize stationary camera setups, due to their lack of intimacy. My cinematography, just like my storytelling, will always exhibit an organic feel. I like to incorporate desaturated color and tone through costume, lighting, cinematography, and production design to complement the authenticity of my characters’ real world problems, relationships, and environment.

I approach storytelling through investigation of culture, exploration of transformational moments, and curiosity about conventional paradigms. My current and future objectives for my motion picture producing and directing bodies of work are about emotional journeys, personal growth, and social movements. As a filmmaker, my goal is to inspire, inform, and entertain audiences by incorporating universal themes within visual narratives about anthropology. I bring out the tension between cultural norms and what is usually hidden or untold. I aim to unveil potential connections to the characters or the story, creating a new view of their lives.

-Joy Millana, Filmmaker


Meet the Filmmaker:  

Joy Millana - Bicoastal producer and director of commercials, shorts, and feature films. Millana’s directorial feature film debut, Profiled (2015), after being awarded many accolades at several international film festivals has received national distribution through Redox, Netflix, Family Video, and Walmart. Bird (2018), an action crime heist feature that Millana produced and assistant directed, has recently been picked up for international distribution with selected theatrical release, beginning February 2019. Gibson Guitar, Apex Fitness, Maxwell Coffee, Pantac USA, and Axe Body Spray are a few of her corporate clients to date.

Her proudest moment remains to be working for her childhood hero, Sir Ridley Scott as an office production assistant in the beginning of her industry career. Through this experience she was awarded to work for Brad Pitt’s company Plan B. During this time, the two companies were in coproduction on the feature film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Millana graduated from Columbus College of Art & Design in 2004 Time-Based Media Studies. She received her MFA at the Academy of Art University in 2007 with a producing/directing degree in Motion Pictures and Television.


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