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Image by Quaritsch Photography

When Ani Met Jo Met Cris

Written by Elizabeth Dwyer

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"A modern romantic comedy that does a great job of providing a little something for everybody."

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With her script for When Ani Met Jo Met Cris, writer Elizabeth Dwyer is a recipient of the 2023 Stowe Story Labs Launch Fellowship.

What industry folks are saying...

"The comedy writing in this project is incredible. The easter eggs/plays on WHEN HARRY MET SALLY are unusually (sic) perfect."

"The dialogue sparkles."

"Smart... beautiful and charming."

"Full of rich, diverse characters who bring lots of vibrancy and humor to the story."

"...transcends the usual dynamics of heterosexual rom-coms."

"...while the plot is conversation-driven, the writer does a great job of creating distinct set pieces and backdrops... creating a vivid environment that will translate to the screen..."

The Story

From the writer: I knew my partner for eight years before we fell in love. We played the classic Queer Community long game of orbiting each other until it all clicked into place. And when I told my writing group about us, I said, “We’re basically the queer version of When Harry Met Sally.” 

 

So When Ani Met Jo Met Cris is exactly that! It’s a recurring meet-cute over the course of a decade, but set in New Mexico and super gay, with a healthy serving of polyamory (on the side).

In the original, timeless classic, Harry and Sally debate a simple and powerful question: Can men and women really be friends? (Without sex getting in the way.) In this heartfelt homage to Nora Ephron’s inimitable script, the question shifts away from gender dynamics and lands on a new, pervasive conundrum of modern romance: 

 

Is there more than one way to do Happily Ever After? 

 

This film reflects the world so many of us live in - where queerness is a simple fact of who we are, not something to grapple with or suffer from. The story puts queer people front and center, showcasing the rich, flawed, beautiful complexities of our identities and our love.

2010. When they meet, Ani is outside a youth hostel in Los Angeles, sucking face with one of Jo's former babysitting charges. It's awkward. Jo is picking up Ani to drive back to Albuquerque, where Jo lives and Ani will soon live. Because who doesn't love an arranged road trip governed by the unseen and all-powerful hands of fate?

On the road, we learn that 30-year-old Jo is happily engaged to Susan and firmly believes we’re all destined to love one person for life. On the other hand, 21-year-old Ani (pronouns they/them or "call me by my name") is a gallivanting skeptic who doesn’t believe in monogamy, let alone fairytales. The unlikely pair debate everything from animal mating habits to lower lip tattoos, learning more about one another than either of them cared to know....

Want to know what happens next?

Ready to hear the whole pitch?

The (Love) Story Behind the Story

The story of Ani, Jo, and Cris is more than a simple homage. The interstitial narratives shared by elderly couples expand on what it is to be queer and in love, so the movie contains not one love story but many. 

 

This film is one of my true love stories, in both the literal sense of autobiographical inspiration (watch the video!), and as a story of love for my community. 

 

It is for my person, Tara, for our queer peers who long to see their love celebrated, and for all the queer ancestors whose love and bravery paved the way.

The characters

Hover over each image for a character description.
Disclaimer: This is
not the actual cast - images are snippets of some actors who might play each part in our wildest, gayest dreams 

pictured L to R: Mae Martin, Lady Gaga, Roberta Colindrez, Rosanny Zayas, Punkie Johnson, Kate McKinnon

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The setting

A Love Letter to New Mexico
 

Wow your English is really good! Do you need a passport to visit? You're from where again, Arizona? Oh I love Breaking Bad - do you still have a bad meth problem there? 

~

These are just a few of the delightful questions New Mexicans hear on a regular basis from folks who don't know our state. When Ani Met Jo Met Cris is a movie full of all kinds of love, and that includes love for New Mexico, where our tale is set.

Some fun facts: We are a part of the US! We are nestled right between Texas and Arizona. Spanish is a common language here, so it's helpful to know it, but not required. We are also home to 22 Native Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations! This includes Acoma Pueblo, the oldest consistently inhabited community in the entire country. 

 

All those Georgia O'Keefe landscapes? That was here! The famous road (get your kicks on) Route 66 runs right through Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. In the Land of Mañana we tend to move with ease, but there are countless museums, trails, parks, vast stargazing skies, and of course restaurants - many of them specializing in delicious New Mexican cuisine.

 

Pro tip: when ordering chile (and you will order chile) ask for red, green, or *Christmas* to get both!

Let's Make a Movie!

Want to hear more? Want to get involved?

For more information on the script, locations, and budget, email writer Elizabeth Dwyer.

Elizabeth Dwyer
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