After (A Love Story) || Paper Planes
Screen Mag coverage
Director’s Club Podcast Review by Jim Laczkowski:
“Actors Glenn Stanton and Thordarson peel back these layers in nuanced, honest performances, going to places of raw, riveting vulnerability. […] But ultimately, the film is a love story, with insights into intimacy and mutual care. And not just a love story about a couple — it’s also a loving testament to honoring how courageous it is to move beyond the shadow of grief and fear without letting it define their lives going forward.” – Omeleto
“The film was written by the lead actress, Alyssa Thordarson. Both performances feel very natural and authentic. It’s rare to see a film about relationship issues where you can equally empathize with both people.” – Kino London
In After (A Love Story), a surviving couple work to heal the emotional and psychological wounds of a shared trauma.
Alyssa’s screenwriting and producing debut, directed by Clare Cooney and starring Glenn Stanton, Susaan Jamshidi, and Alyssa played 20 major festivals during 2022, including a world premiere at the Academy-Award-Qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival. It was an official selection at LA Shorts, another Academy-Award-qualifier, and won Best Dramatic Short at both North Hollywood Cinefest and the Sherman Oaks Film Festival. At the latter, Glenn Stanton earned a Grand Jury Award for Best Lead Actor in a Short, the ensemble won a Grand Jury Award for Best Performance by a Cast, and Alyssa won a Grand Jury Award for Best Short Screenplay as well as a Filmmaker’s Award for Best Performance by an Individual.
The film garnered a Best Director nomination for Clare Cooney at New York Cinefest, and nominations for Best Dramatic Short at Key West Film Festival and Best Lead Actor at North Hollywood Cinefest, among its nearly twenty nominations over the festival run.
In Paper Planes, a woman with agoraphobia and the Airbnb guest across the hall strike up a correspondence that becomes something more for the holidays.
Written by Alyssa and co-directed by Alyssa and Chicago indie film favorite Michael Glover Smith (Relative, Rendezvous in Chicago, Mercury in Retrograde), Paper Planes marks Alyssa’s directorial debut. The film stars Shaina Schrooten (Revealer, Scare Package, Chicago Med) and Alyssa in a queer romantic comedy with a tinge of melancholy.
The film shot in January of 2023 and is slated for a festival run for the duration of the year, premiering at After Image Film Festival.
“PAPER PLANES is a Christmas-set romantic comedy about the need for human connection in the modern world. As co-directors, we bonded over our belief that the best rom-coms are films of genuine substance precisely because they show the kind of near-“missed connections” that are freighted with the potential for tragedy. We also believe that the best holiday films feature a streak of melancholy: after all, the season that is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year” often intensifies feelings of sadness for those, like our agoraphobic protagonist, Rachel, who find themselves spending it alone. Continuing the journey of connection, the film treats the characters’ queerness the way most romantic comedies treat their leads’ heterosexuality: implicit, safe, not an obstacle, and only pertinent as it pertains to their attraction to each other. We consider PAPER PLANES a cinematic greeting card, one that we hope will make viewers’ hearts full by the time the end credits roll.”
— Michael Glover Smith and Alyssa Thordarson