Michael Glover Smith Sets World Premiere for New Short ‘Handle With Care’

HANDLE WITH CARE, a new short film written and directed by Michael Glover Smith (RELATIVE) and starring Alyssa Thordarson (AFTER: A LOVE STORY) and Mickey O’Sullivan (CHICAGO PD), will have its world premiere at the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Florence, Alabama in March, with Smith in attendance for a Q&A. This is less than a year after PAPER PLANES, a short co-directed by Smith and Thordarson, had its world premiere at Afterimage in St. Charles, before going on to screen at more than two dozen fests worldwide, winning awards at five. Described in a director’s statement as Smith’s “most autobiographical film to date,” the new 8-minute romantic dramedy stars Thordarson and O’Sullivan as a woman and man who go on a blind date, both for the first time in years. According to the official synopsis, “Each must decide how open and honest they should be.”

Under the auspices of the University of Northern Alabama and festival director Michael Curtis Johnson, an acclaimed filmmaker in his own right (SAVAGE YOUTH), the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival has established itself as one of the premiere film festivals in the American South. In an exclusive interview with SCREEN, Smith said, “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be premiering at George Lindsey. I was there five years ago with RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO and it was one of my favorite film fest experiences. It’s great for networking. In fact, it’s where I met Elizabeth Stam who went on to star in RELATIVE. So, after we made HANDLE WITH CARE in record time this January, it was actually the first festival I thought about submitting to. I can’t wait to share it with audiences there and, eventually, around the country as well.”

Lead actors Alyssa Thordarson and Mickey O’Sullivan

The lead producer on HANDLE WITH CARE is local professor/filmmaker John Otterbacher (SILT), with Thordarson and Rob Christopher (ROY’S WORLD: BARRY GIFFORD’S CHICAGO) listed as co-producers. The black-and-white cinematography is by acclaimed Iranian-American cinematographer Pouya Shahbazi whose award-winning first feature ROXANA bowed at the Tokyo International Film Festival last October. This marks Smith’s first time working in black-and-white since he shot his own first feature, COOL APOCALYPSE, a decade ago. Eric Marsh (ORDERS) is listed as editor and UK-based musician Trev Gibb (PAPER PLANES) wrote and performed the movie’s original score. A 2023 song by Sad Brad Smith (UP IN THE AIR), “Change Your Life,” is featured over the closing credits.

Here are some exclusive photos from set, courtesy of the production team and photographer Leticia Santos…

Smith described the film’s surprising genesis and lightning-fast shoot to SCREEN: “I was originally planning on shooting another feature this month. When that didn’t work out for financial reasons, I still felt the urge to make something. The production scene in Chicago can feel dead in January because of the weather so it’s actually a good time to work. I’m also fortunate to know a lot of talented people I can call on for help on short notice. In terms of story, I remembered an unusual blind date I went on almost 20 years ago, and that night has kind of haunted me ever since. It seemed like the type of emotionally complicated scenario that could serve as the basis for an effective short. I loved working with Alyssa for the second time on this, and Mickey for the first time, in order to bring these two characters to life. I think they’re both phenomenal in it.”

Exact date and showtime of the world premiere is TBA but tickets will soon be available to purchase on the official website of the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival, which runs from February 29 – March 2. HANDLE WITH CARE will continue its festival run with more screenings in the Spring.

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