THE SENSEI                      


THE SENSEI takes place during the rise of HIV and the AIDS panic it stirred in communities in the 1980's and early 90's.  Set in 1985, in the plains of Colorado, McClain Evans (Mike O’ Laskey, “Three Ninjas at Mega Mountain”) , a young gay teen is constantly the target of hate and bullying in his provincial town.
      Returning after a five-year absence is Karen O'Neil (D. Lee Inosanto, "The Prodigy"), a woman haunted by the death of fiancé, pro boxer Mark Corey (Louis Mandylor, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"). On the surface, we believe Karen is there only to reconnect with her family, owners of a successful martial arts business, and active members of their church ministry.
When McClain is hospitalized after a near fatal beating by three local teens, who are then released on bail, Annie (McClain’s outraged mother, played by Gina Scalzi) asks Karen to secretly teach her son to defend himself.Unbeknownst to her family, and fearful of small town retaliation, Karen agrees to secretly teach McClain, training him at night to protect them both. 
     Through the martial ways, McClain learns to rise above ignorance and prejudice, and his newfound confidence causes him to intercede when a classmate is being bullied.
After the public confrontation, Karen’s role as his teacher is revealed.  This rocks the small, rural community to the core, particularly when the controversy unmasks Karen’s past with Mark Corey.
Reminiscently told in conversation between the young man, McClain and a Minister (Emmy Award Winner, Keith David “Crash”), THE SENSEI is an examination of the prejudices that allow hatred to continue, and the people that find their own humanity in their darkest hour.