The Sarasota Herald Tribune

Short film born in Sarasota creates a 'Party' around serious issues

  Frankie LaPace, left, and Jimmy DiPaola, two graduates of Booker High School's VPA Theatre program, star in the short film "When the Party Ends." LaPace also co-wrote the script. The film is featured at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival and will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Alex Stafford Photo

Frankie LaPace, left, and Jimmy DiPaola, two graduates of Booker High School's VPA Theatre program, star in the short film "When the Party Ends." LaPace also co-wrote the script. The film is featured at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival and will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Alex Stafford Photo

By Jay Handelman , Herald-Tribune

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

After years of saying good-bye to good friends who died from AIDS-related complications, director, actress and writer KT Curran was shocked to read statistics that reveal Florida leads the nation in new HIV infections.

As the founder and artistic director of Source Productions, for which she has created numerous plays and films about important health and social issues aimed at teenagers, Curran knew she had to tackle it as her next project.

She arranged interviews and focus groups with straight and LGBT young people around the country about HIV and sex, which became part of the story of the short film “When the Party Ends.”

The movie, shot in Sarasota, will be screened Thursday and Saturday at the Sarasota Film Festival and then at the Cannes Film Festival May 13-25.

Curran said she was surprised that even though HIV and AIDS is no longer the automatic death sentence it once was “there still seems to be a real stigma in the gay community to talk about AIDS. People who are (HIV) positive don’t like to talk about it and I thought that stigma was gone. They don’t want people to know.”

KT Curran is Artistic Director of Source Productions and director and co-writer of the short film "When the Party Ends" about a young man concerned he may have been infected with HIV. The film will be shown at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival. Alex Stafford Photo

She wanted to address that stigma and deal with the newer debate about drugs like Truvada, which are being used as a preventative to sexually transmitted HIV infection.

She found the vehicle while talking with Frankie LaPace, a young actor and writer who graduated from Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts program and has been involved with Source on such projects as “The Tobacco Club” and “Holding Cell.”

The 24-year-old LaPace had been working on his own script about some old friends who are reunited “but I didn’t have the conflict. It never came together. It never seemed real,” he said. When Curran mentioned the HIV story idea, he stayed up late one night combining them.

“I sent her a 33-page script. I knew it was too much, but I was not editing myself at first. I was just banging it out,” he said.

Together, they shaped the script into “When the Party Ends,” which Curran filmed at Ivory Lounge and around Five Points Park in downtown Sarasota.

The film is the story of Anthony (played by LaPace) who returns home to Sarasota for a quick weekend trip, hoping to talk to his ex-boyfriend Evan (played by Jimmy DiPaola, another Booker grad) about his concerns that he may have HIV.

There is tension between them because of the way Anthony left Evan behind when he moved to New York. There is still a connection, which prompts jealousy from Evan’s new boyfriend (played by Patrick A. Jackson). Zara Barrie, who has been active with Source for years, plays a good friend of the main characters.

The 17-minute film depicts young people partying, dancing in a club, doing drugs in a bathroom, and sharing information and whatever concerns they may have about HIV, condoms and safe sex.

“It’s a story about coming home and how it feels, and when you layer HIV onto that, it’s about what happens when you go away and get spooked by something. It could be addiction or you didn’t get the job you thought you were going to get and how you come back for the sense of comfort and nurturing you expect,” Curran said. “It’s a common theme with a lot of the people I work with and interview.”

LaPace said that even though the film is set in Sarasota, “I hope it translates to anywhere your home is. Home is kind of this place of healing.”

LaPace, who graduated from the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in 2011, has been writing and acting in a variety of short and independent feature films and has done some stage work in New York.

He plans to join Curran and possibly a few others from the film in Cannes, where “When the Party Ends” will be part of a short film corner.

“We’ll be in a tiny screening room, but it’s an opportunity to meet producers from all over the world, take workshops and talk about our movie,” she said.

The film was produced by Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, which sponsors Source Productions, with financial support from the Community AIDS Network, the Our Sarasota Fund and the McCauley-Brown Fund from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Curran said she hopes that the “film will be used in school groups in discussions to get people talking about things that you don’t always get to talk about it.”

Interested?
"When the Party Ends” will be screened as part of the SRQ Shorts program at the Sarasota Film Festival at 7 p.m. April 16 and 2:30 p.m. April 18 at Hollywood 20 Cinemas. For ticket information: 366-6200; sarasoafilmfestival.com