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Cast Bios

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Kento Matsunami plays Akira Oniwa.  He was born in Tokyo and began acting as a teenager.  After high school he moved to Los Angeles to study at Santa Monica College, graduating with a Theater degree in 2016.   He played the lead, Light Yagami, in the short film Death Note, which won Best Fantasy Film in the Asians On Film Festival.  In 2017 alone, seven short films he acted in were released, and if anything, he has been even more in demand since then:  he has acted in three TV series (Pretty DudesZAPS, Inc., and The Fifth Hour of the Night) along with a cluster of shorts and the feature film Ad Astra, starring Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland.  He's also been in countless commercials, including Amazon Prime, Snapchat, Munsingwear, Citi Panda, I talk BB and Gogawi.

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Lucía Rodriguez-Nelson portrays Elizabeth Ayers.  She was a high school junior at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Illinois during principal photography, but she is now at DePaul University on a full scholarship.  She played Anita (the Rita Moreno role) in the Music Theatre International's West Side Story - School Edition presented by Encore in Oak Park, Illinois during July 2016.  She also has been a member of Voice of Chicago, which reporter Michelle Dybal has described as “the top-tier audition-based ensemble of the Chicago Children’s Choir” and whose purpose is to share music contributions from other countries.  In addition, she was selected as Outstanding Female Performer and a Junior Theater Festival All-Star at the Junior Theater Festival — the world’s largest musical theater festival celebrating young people and the transformative power of musical theater.

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Billy Chengary, who plays Scott Dahse, is currently living in Los Angeles. He has worked in both commercials and films, and his recent credits include starring in Who Wants to Be the Last to Say Goodbye? with Christine Kilmer, written and directed by Benjamin Piety (Sunlit Shadows), and I Got You Babe, the Best Short Film winner at the Beloit International Film Festival, which was written and directed by Ashton Avila.  Billy is managed by Lane Management Group and represented by Almond Talent.

Naoyuki Ikeda plays Takashi Oniwa.  He was born in Nagoya, Japan.  After graduating from Tsuru University, he taught junior high and high school English for a dozen years in Aichi and Kagoshima.  Then he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his lifelong dream of being a Hollywood film actor.  Because of his unique background, Naoyuki Ikeda has been able to probe a wide range of characters, from a gentle family dad to an unhinged serial killer.  To date, he has acted in more than 50 films, including the features Blue Dream (2013), The Ever After (2014), Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance (2015), and Syndicate Smasher (2017).  He has also acted in award-winning short films such as Naomi Otanjobi (2015) and American Hikikomori (2015), and in the theatrical plays BURAI: Standing All Alone (2014) and Imported Bride (2015).

Akiko Shima on-set candid

Akiko Shima plays Hiroko Oniwa in Another Yesterday.  She is best known for “Lead Woman” (the patriotic lead woman in the town) in the film Letters from Iwo Jima, directed by Clint Eastwood.  (Film critic Jim Emerson at noted her lines while discussing the brainwashed mindset of expecting soldiers to die for their country.)  Additional film credits include American Hikikomori, Masterless, Usagi-san and The 8th Samurai.  After growing up in Nagano and Tokyo, Akiko was cast from 2000 applicants as one of the three “Punch girls” for the popular radio show The Punch, Punch, Punch of Nippon Broadcasting (Nippon Hoso) in Tokyo.  She continued her broadcasting career in Los Angles for more than 20 years, at Japanese language radio & TV stations (Radio Pacific Japan, Yomiuri World TV, and United TV Broadcasting/UTB).  She left broadcasting and became a full time actress when she joined SAG in 1998.  She was nominated by the Santa Monica Theater Guild (Morgan-Wixon) Geoffrey Awards (‘03) as Best Character Actress in the play Kokoro (True Heart).  At Asians on Film Festival 2016, Akiko won the Best Supporting Actress award for the role of “Isamu’s grandmother” in American Hikikomori after winning its Winter Award the previous year.  She has also appeared in TNT’s The Last Ship and Adult Swim’s Black Jesus.  TV commercials include Ameritrade and World Master Card.

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Natalie Duch portrays Bryony Ellery.  She received her BFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University in the spring of 2016.  She has also studied at the world-renowned Moscow Art Theatre School (MXAT), Second City, and Acting Studio Chicago.  Natalie portrayed Josie Adler in three episodes of the TV series The Good Fight, and has appeared in over a dozen different independent films in the Chicago area.  She also spends her time doing print work, modeling, commercials and theatre.  Her next release will be The Pretender — an indie feature psychological thriller set in the 1920s.  Natalie is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent, and you can follow her career here for news and upcoming productions.

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Robert Cáez, who portrays Dylan Dahse in Another Yesterday, found his love of acting at the University of Iowa.  He has played the lead in the such indie films as Shut In, I Can Be a Nice Cop, and Novel Research, and the co-star in the web narrative Hits: No Morals.  He also played Marky Ramone in Runaway Theatre Lab’s stage production of The Perfect Drug.

Crew Bios

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As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, writer/director/editor Steven Heil directed five productions that won recognition in national competitions.  His narrative short film The Order, which he wrote, produced, directed, shot, and edited, won Best Student Film at the Oregon International Film Awards.  His narrative television episode Love Bites #2 “Sous Chef Wanted,” which he wrote, directed, and edited, won the Grand Prize in the Video Drama Program Category at the National Undergraduate Student Electronic Media Competition.  His music video for Keag’s “Yew Who” won a Bronze Remi Award at the Houston International Film Festival; he served as its producer/director/ cinematographer/editor.  Since graduating, his music video for Franki Moscato’s “Me, Myself, & I” has won several international awards, including Best Music Video at the London Independent Film Awards.  It can be viewed here.  In 2019, he was competitively selected for the Creative Minds in Sundance Film Program.

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Producer/songwriter Douglas Heil was writer/producer on three award-winning short films (awards include the Silver Award for Best Community Relations Video, Quasar Awards; the Electra Award for Best Film on the Atypical and Aged, Birmingham International Film Festival; and Best Film, 1–10 Minute Category, Hemisfilm International Festival).  His book The Art of Stereography: Rediscovering Vintage Three-Dimensional Images, published by McFarland, won First Place in the 2017 Fine Art/Photography category of the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards; his book Prime-Time Authorship: Works By and About Three TV Dramatists was published by Syracuse University Press.  As a professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where he teaches scriptwriting, filmmaking, and aesthetics, he has won the statewide University of Wisconsin-System Regents Teaching Excellence Award and the UW Oshkosh Distinguished Teaching Award.  His M.F.A. in Film is from Northwestern University; his B.A. in Rhetoric is from the University of Illinois.

Diane Vlajcic-Heil on-set candid

Producer Diane Vlajcic Heil was co-producer on So Much That We Share, which won the Silver Award for Best Community Relations Video at the Quasar Awards.  She is a detail-oriented person who excels at behind-the-scenes negotiations (she handled the SAG contracts, the music contracts, secured advantageous housing for cast and crew, worked with a wide array of food vendors, etc.).  She earned a B.A. in filmmaking from Columbia College in Chicago.

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