Healing Plan

Luna, a Portuguese teen struggling with insomnia and her recent move to America, is sent to a celebrity doctor to help cope with her adjustment. His revolutionary sleep therapy brings her back to the beginning of her move and several of the struggles she has faced since. But his “healing plan” has some devastating drawbacks she is not quite ready to face.

  • Samantha Joia
    Bereft (2022)
  • Matilde Silva
    Script Coordinator and Staff Writer at Akula Literary Partners
  • Samantha Joia
    Flower Girl
  • Yoni Azulay
    Founder of Bluestone Pictures
  • Talia A. Petrone
  • Ben Banks
    The Shocking Backpack
  • Matilde Silva
    Key Cast
    20s30s (2023), Falling Forward (2022), Unskin Deep (2021)
  • Bobby James Evers
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Gonzalez"
    Law and Order, Blue Bloods, The Will
  • Cristina Duarte
    Key Cast
    Law and Order, One Life to to Live, All My Children, Saturday Night Live
  • Natalia Guedes
    Key Cast
    Malhação (2017), The Trace We Leave Behind, Did you…Score? (2012)
  • Natalie Yale
    Key Cast
    Falling Forward, The Closet Letter, Cortado, Before You Go
  • Haley Pine
    Key Cast
    Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, Ministry of Evil: The Twisted Cult of Tony Alamo, Luna, The Witch
  • Ines Høysæter Asserson
    Key Cast
    Skam, Harajuku, Royalteen
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Thriller
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes 12 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 3, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Portuguese
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - New York University Tisch School of the Arts
Director Biography - Samantha Joia

Samantha Joia is a New York based writer, producer and director. She received a BFA in Film and Television Production from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently an associate producer a feature length documentary set to be distributed by HBO. Prior to this, she worked as an executive producer’s assistant at Nickelodeon, for an upcoming animated comedy series.

(Pictured: Matilde Silva, the writer, on the left; Samantha Joia, the director, on the right.)

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Director Statement

*** The project is still undergoing the coloring process.***

"From the age of six, my life crisscrossed countries - Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Little did I fathom then that my travels would leave an unhealed scar for a while. Upon my return to my hometown, Lisbon, I felt like a total stranger. With my dad's absence, my twin brother's opposite personality, and my younger baby twin-set siblings to help take care of, my mom was my only true best friend, fearlessly fighting to ease my passage through life’s turbulent waters. Nevertheless, the battle was far from over. Finding a school during the academic year seemed impossible but a catholic elementary school opened the doors for me.

Now… I am sure you haven't heard too many positive stories coming from girls attending catholic school. I was already bound to have a difficult journey readapting to the language and culture, yet what I had experienced in that school tormented me until I was eleven. I slowly began experiencing nightmares every night, waking me up at least three times during my sleep. I was too scared to fall asleep or get out of bed when waking up. The nightmares turned into hallucinations, making me almost fail my fifth grade. My mom continuously received calls from my school complaining about my rebellious behavior when in reality my actions reflected the fears that tormented me. Suddenly, my mom was in the waiting room of a psychiatrist's office, waiting for me to speak up.

Almost nine years later, I moved to the chaos of New York City to pursue an acting career. It was a Sunday when the loud Grace Church Bells woke me up abruptly. At that moment, I was transported back to my psychiatrist’s office. “Draw anything that comes to mind,” my doctor said. I froze for a second and instead of drawing, I began writing. I was suddenly inspired by my past nightmares and looked at them in a different light. I no longer perceived them as the mere consequences of catholic school but as a rather complex investigation of self-identity and self-discovery.

My nightmares were born of a deep-seated fear of abandonment, of being overlooked and unrecognized, particularly due to my father’s absence at the time. Growing up as a twin, I frequently compared myself to my brother, whose academic achievements outshone my own. This only intensified my sense of isolation, a feeling compounded by my family’s constant displacement from city to city and the resulting loss of control. My mother's distress only amplified my own, and our bond strengthened in the absence of my father, who was often absent due to his work.

The short film Healing Plan deals with real nightmares that I can still remember. However, the protagonist, Luna, was born in a much more technologically advanced society of today, 2023. As Luna's journey reaches its peak, she realizes the relentless chase for approval from others, partially influenced by social media, has cast a shadow over her own inner voice. Through her experiences, I've grasped that our life's canvas should be painted by our choices, not dictated by societal norms. Healing Plan serves as a heartfelt plea to take charge, embrace our individuality, and step to the beat of our unique life's melody. The nightmares mirror the universal fears of the new generation grappling with identity and exploitation."
"Growing up, I discovered that speaking my native language, Portuguese, in public often drew suspicious glances. As a result, our family had to keep our ability to speak Portuguese a secret, confined to the privacy of our home. Little did I know that this would have a lasting impact on my life. Over time, as we settled into life in the United States, our Brazilian heritage seemed to fade into the background. Our cherished traditions were overlooked, and our planned trips back to Rio de Janeiro were repeatedly canceled. Gradually, my proficiency in any language other than English began to falter. When we finally did return to Rio, I felt profoundly isolated.

Describing this experience was a challenge until I had the fortune of meeting Matilde, the lead actress and co-writer of the film. She shared the original concept of our story, inspired by the nightmares she endured after leaving her native Portugal and living in Spain, Italy, and eventually the United States. When she eventually returned to Lisbon, she felt like a complete stranger in her own homeland.

Through the exploration of the similarities in our experiences, we produced this film to address the challenges and pressures faced by individuals when attempting to assimilate into a new country, particularly in the United States. Our aim is to shed light on the importance of embracing cultural diversity, acknowledging the sacrifices made by those who leave their homelands, and fostering an environment where people can proudly preserve their heritage while integrating into new societies. It's a reminder that in the midst of change and adaptation, our roots are the threads that weave the tapestry of our lives, enriching our individual stories and the larger narrative of our shared humanity."