Golden Earth Film Award's Best First Time Director winner of December 2020 Edition

Symphoria Directed by Catherine Dao won the Best First Time Director Award

Poster of the Film

At 29, Shawn Wittig is the epitome of the spoiled rich kid living on the largesse of an indulgent single playboy father. The years of coddling by dad, including avoiding prosecutions from DUI to manslaughter charges continue to fuel Shawn's addictions to drugs and alcohol, When the law finally caught up with him, Shawn is released into a teaching/rehabilitation program at the local university run by JT Dalton, a brilliant but mysterious chemist. At first JT’s and Shawn’s relationship is antagonistic but, after a late night in the chemistry lab, it becomes something deeper. Soon JT and Shawn are involved in an illicit and highly sexualized affair that begins to consume both their lives. When the University catches wind of the affair, JT is promptly suspended and Shawn’s father forces the young man to give up his romance with his older professor…


About the Director: Catherine Dao

Catherine Dao (Director/Producer/Actor) As a Chinese-American immigrant making her way into the film business, it was only natural for Catherine to take a little detour to earn a Doctorate in Chemistry from USC, with full scholarship, of course. Little did her parents realize what she learned as a scientist would serve to fuel her pursuit of a passion in filmmaking. Very early on in her career, numerous experiences in films and theatres have won her many positive responses in the press. The results of her dedication to working with women directors had been recognized in Visual Communications’ In Focus for “Cloud and Moon” with Cheng-Sim Lim, and in the American Film magazine for “Kalito” with Mary Jane Eisenberg. In addition, she has performed in “A Community of Caring,” which won the L. A. Emmy, directed by sit-com director Mary Lou Belli, and in “Birds of a Feather,” which won the Houston Worldfest Bronze Award AND the Crystal Award of Excellence, directed by Lisa Dalton.


As a veteran actor of the theatre, Catherine's portrayal of a young Hiroshima survivor of the atomic bomb in "A-Bomb Beauties" was noted by The Hollywood Reporter, calling it "outstanding.., Dao captures the anguish of a woman torn from her culture." Some of her other film and television credits also include UPN's MOESHA, UNSOLVED MYSTERIES, GENERAL HOSPITAL, THE DIVISION, BET’s FIRE AND ICE, THE TONIGHT SHOW, UNFABULOUS, THE SHIELD, GREY’S ANATOMY, CYBER BANDITS, the Jimmie Award-winning film CHINA CRY, and starred in the feature KILLER BABE FOR THE CIA with James Hong, which became a cult film and The Hollywood Reporter singled her out for an honorable mention. Also, she is the only principal female controller in Bob Zemeckis’ CONTACT. And, she had the luxury of working with the Oscar-winning Asian-American director Jessica Yu on the film “PING PONG PLAYA.”


Catherine’s interest in directing began when her actor friends would repeatedly ask her to direct their monologues and scenes for auditions. This interest evolved into a desire to write her own materials. Utilizing her chemistry knowledge and expertise, she wrote the thriller “Symphoria,” her fifth feature screenplay, but the first one to secure funds for production. Stay tuned. Now that she’s hooked, Catherine plots to further her directing career.



Behind the scene


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