A Special Film Screening: Drive Me to the Sea

When we launched HappyDoll last January, we had our very first HappyDoll session with autistic children at AMAC.  Since then, we had opportunities to learn more about autism through working with autistic kids at JCC .

Although we are learning more about autism everyday, much remains to be discovered about the disorder.  HappyDoll has been inspired by the kids we have met through our program, and hope to deepen our understanding of autistic children.

As a way to raise awareness about autism, HappyDoll is co-sponsoring a screening of a Japanese film (with Eng. subtitles) called "Drive Me to the Sea".  It's a road movie about a young man's journey with autism and the people touched by him.

The writer, Kuniaki Yamashita, originally wrote the story for his own autistic son, Hiroki.  It was shortly after he started producing the film of the novel, that his son passed away in an accident.  Three years later, the film was finally completed with the donations of over 1000 people.  "Drive Me to the Sea" has been shown at more than 200 venues through independently-organized screenings.

Don't miss this opportunity to catch the special screenings of "Drive Me to the Sea" held throughout New York on the weekend of January 20th!

-Fri. Jan, 20th 7pm @Japan Society (333 East 47th Street)  Screening includes introduction and Q&A  (in English and Japanese) with screenwriter, Kuniaki Yamashita, and communication therapist, Hisako Cunningham, M.S. Moderator: Nozomi Terao, Translator: Linda Haglund. Tickets $10/$7 (members, students & seniors) 212-715-1258

-Sat. Jan, 21th 4:30pm @The Nippon Club (145 West 57th Street)  Screening includes introduction and Q&A (in Japanese only) with screenwriter, Kuniaki Yamashita, and communication therapist, Hisako Cunningham, M.S.   Tickets $10/$7 (members, students & seniors) 212-581-2223    yhonda@nipponclub.org

-Sat. Jan, 21th 4pm @White Plains Family YMCA (250 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains, NY) Screening includes a panel discussion in English with Julie Azuma, Founder and President of Different Roads to Learning, and our very own Executive Director, Nozomi Terao!  Tickets $7/$0 (for children 6th grade and under)914-761-8450   tokyopr@frostvalley.org


Here's the movie trailer (in Japanese) of "Drive Me to the Sea":


We recommend you get the tickets before they sell out! Look forward to seeing you at the screening!

About the Speakers:

Born in Tokyo in 1960, Kuniaki Yamashita began his career after graduating from Nihon University, College of Art as a scriptwriter for a wide range of entertainment programs and dramas for television, theatrically-released films, direct-to-video movies and comics. A Tezuka Productions contract led to work on Jungle Emperor Leo, Black Jack, The Three Eyed One and many Tezuka animations. After going back to freelance scriptwriting, he wrote children’s animations including Go! Anpanman! He is a co-author of A Father Who Could Say “My Kid has Disabilities”, written by fathers of children with disabilities. His essay “You Can Take a Walk” looks at the 15 years with his son Hiroki. Kuniaki is a member of the Japan Writers Guild.

Hisako Cunningham, M.S., is a communication therapist with more than 40 years of experience in working with developmentally disabled children. She was the supervisor of Clinical Service Programs for the Aurally and Visually Handicapped at the Westchester Institute for Human Development for 23 years. To raise awareness about issues related to mental health, special education and communication therapy, Hisako has been giving lectures both in the U.S. and Japan. She is a recipient of many awards, including the Foreign Minister’s Award of the Japanese Government for her contribution in promoting special education related understanding between Japan and the U.S. She is the author of Soshite Chosen no Hibi (My Challenging Days) and Kaigai Shijo Kyoiku (Japanese Children Overseas). She also translated the books on autism Emergence: Labeled Autistic and Thinking in Colors by bestselling author Dr. Temple Grandin.

Julie Azuma, is the Founder and President of Different Roads to Learning. In 1994, when her daughter, Miranda, was diagnosed with autism at the age of six, she left the apparel industry to begin Different Roads to Learning, a niche business specializing in educational products for children diagnosed with autism.  The company now carries over 500 products including assessments and curriculums, meeting the needs of thousands of autistic children around the world through schools, agencies and families. Julie is the president of the Eden II and Genesis Foundation Board, an agency that works to educate and serve over 300 individuals diagnosed with autism, to gain the highest possible quality of life.  The agency includes schools, residences and day habilitation for adults. In 2008 she was honored by the New York Families for Autistic Children. The Elija Foundation honored her for her company’s work in autism with the “Chariot Award” in November of 2008.  She has been honored for her Asian American Community efforts, many times.  Julie is currently the chairperson on the board of Asian Women in Business, and a vice president on the board of the Japanese American Association.

Nozomi Terao is the Founder and Executive Director of HappyDoll, Inc., a nonprofit organization connecting children through the making and exchanging of unique and fun dolls. To date, over 500 children in New York, North Carolina, Haiti and Japan have collaborated through the project. She is also the Founder and Director of MSTERIO, enriching the lives of young Japanese and their communities through shared experiences. Since 2001, MSTERIO has hosted annual summer camps, spring teen events and a winter gatherings in Japan. In March 2011, Nozomi produced and directed “Stand with Japan” in New York City, raising over $36,000 to help the survivors of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. She is also a team member of Keio University Hospital’s “Kokoro no Care” project in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, which responds to the mental health needs of survivors of the March 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Nozomi was an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, working there in various capacities for 18 years. She has also worked at the American Embassy in Tokyo, Fuji Television's morning show and Itochu International.

Linda Hoaglund was born in Japan as the daughter of American missionary parents. After attending Japanese public schools and international high school, she graduated from Yale University. She worked as a bilingual news producer for Fuji Television in NY. Since 1995, she has subtitled 200 films and interpreted for such acclaimed directors as Hayao Miyazaki. In 2007, Linda produced the documentary Wings of Defeat, a film about Kamikaze pilots who survived the war. In 2010, she directed and produced  ANPO: Art X War, depicting resistance to U.S. military bases in Japan. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.