The Beginning Daoyou

  • Director

    Jingwen Zhao

  • Country, Year, Length

    United States, 2023, 11:20

  • Category

    Narrative Short

  • Format


  • Festival Year


Film Screening & Ticket Information

When & Where to See this Film!

ON BECOMING: 6 films about what happens when we change.

April 24, 2024 @ 7:00PM • Kaufman Astoria Studios – Zukor Theatre

View the Trailer


Daoyou’s extraordinary powers are a burden as she struggles to assimilate in America. But then a car accident exposes her ability and changes everything.


ingwen Zhao, Director, A Modeled Woman, Jolina
Jingwen Zhao, Writer
Jason Michael Anthony, Writer
Wessley Steele, Producer
Winnie Yeung, Key Cast, “Daoyou”
Justin Banton, Key Cast, “Noah”
Yuri Kim, Key Cast, “Young Daoyou”
Zachery Askew, Key Cast, “Young Noah”
Lorraine Fletcher, Key Cast, “Kid #1”
Harper Jackson, Key Cast, “Kid #2”
Ryan Lemmon, Key Cast, “Sam”
Emma Thompson, Key Cast, “Avery”
Jason Chimonides, Key Cast, “Drunk Man”
Robin Winton, Key Cast, “Restaurant Owner”
Brenon Rucker, Key Cast, “Waiter”
Madison Eubank, Key Cast, “Waiter”
Danetta Hooks, Key Cast, “Waiter”
Taylor Matthews, Key Cast, “Diner Patron”
Tyler Kirkpatrick, Key Cast, “Diner Patron”
Will C Karlen, Key Cast, “Diner Patron”
Eliana Henrich, Key Cast, “Diner Patron”
Jennifer Joseph, Key Cast, “Diner Patron”
Aravind Anand, Director of Photography
Maggie Xiong, Production Design
Lu Cheng, Original Score
Yiming Pan, Editor
Gabrielle Chapman, First Assistant Director
Tyler Kirkpatrick, Second Assistant Director
Steven Hedrick Jr., First Assistant Camera
Vance Osteeb, Second Assistant Camera
Jim Shashaty, Sound Mixer
Queenie Zhang, Boom Operator
Ash Wilson, Gaffer
Yining Pan, Gaffer
Zeke Joiner, Best Boy Electric
Tyler Heminger, Best Boy Electric
Elianna Henrich, Key Grip
Alana Nelson, Script Supervisor
Jenn Joseph, Production Assistant
Dina Hamad, Production Assistant
Gage Kroyer, Production Assistant
Evan Patrick Adams, Assistant Editor

Director Statement

This film is a result of my profound inspiration that stems from personal experiences. Growing up, I grappled with the challenges of fitting in due to cultural disparities between China and America. It was my own longing for a relatable role model, someone who resembled me and faced similar struggles, that motivated me to bring this film to life. I wanted to shine a spotlight on individuals who are battling to find their place.

At the core, this film delves into the theme of identity. Our protagonist, Daoyou, finds it difficult to accept herself in this foreign land, burdened by the expectations imposed by her parents to assimilate. They believed that blending in and avoiding attention was the key to fitting in. However, Daoyou, already standing out due to her extraordinary powers, realizes that denying her true self is not the solution. It is through her journey that we explore the repercussions of conformity versus embracing one’s uniqueness. The stakes are high, as her decision to stand out becomes a matter of life and death when she must save others from a reckless driver crashing into a restaurant.

When determining the style, tone, and genre of this film, I drew inspiration from the “Florida Project”. I wanted to infuse a dream-like quality, capturing the essence of childhood through flashbacks. The tone strikes a delicate balance between happiness and sadness, emphasizing the constant feeling of displacement that accompanies Daoyou wherever she goes. This film falls under the coming-of-age genre, as we all experience a sense of not belonging at some point in our lives.

Throughout production, we encountered numerous challenges that could have jeopardized the realization of this project. From casting to scouting suitable locations on a shoestring budget, the scope of this film seemed daunting. However, the unwavering support from those who believed in this story made all the difference. I am profoundly grateful for the incredibly talented individuals who have brought this narrative to life, as they are destined for stardom. Moreover, the generosity of those who shared their resources and expertise, driven by their love for this story, has made filming this project an absolute dream come true.

Ultimately, my aspiration for this film is for the audience to gain insight into the immigrant experience in America, where superpowers serve as both a source of strength and a scapegoat. I want them to find entertainment and be warmed by the heartfelt nature of this coming-of-age tale. By immersing themselves in Daoyou’s journey, I hope viewers will not only appreciate the struggles faced by immigrants but also celebrate the beauty of embracing one’s true self, no matter the circumstances.

Director Biography

Jingwen Zhao is a Chinese filmmaker who grew up in every corner of the United States. Raised in a Chinese household and educated with American values, she represents a unique blend of cultural perspectives. Her storytelling focuses on creating memorable characters demonstrating that what is seen on the outside does not always represent the truth of what is inside.

Jingwen focuses on showcasing thrilling outcasts to lovable role models. She has a passion for creating dark characters that her audience can empathize with and provoke responses by their moral choices as well as role models that kids can aspire to become like in their future.

She tells stories which center around misjudged and mistreated character’s upbringing. Amplifying a perspective of the under-represented that at first glance may not be appreciated but ends with entertainment and understanding. Jingwen thrives in stories filled with drama, action, provocative psychological themes, and thrill rides.

Her recent short film THE BEGINNING OF DAOYOU shares a perspective of an immigrant college student’s journey of self appreciation and cultural identity while learning to understand her mysterious super power. Previously, her thriller short film A MODELED WOMAN won Film.Gate Miami Jury Award. Her 3 minute short JOLINA won the Scene Awards Audience-Choice Best 3 Minutes short.

Besides directing, Jingwen produces short films. She produced GUT HOOKED, a coming-of-age short film that follows a young boy combatting the traumatic memories of his grandfather’s death. She also freelanced as a Content Acquisition Manager and several below-the-line roles in the United States for documentaries, game and reality shows.

​Jingwen Zhao is a member of the New York Women in Film and Television since 2019. She graduated with a Masters from Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts. When she is not filming, she loves to travel and experience the food and culture of new locations. In addition, she has spent time as an animal trainer, helping strengthen the pet’s bond with its parents.