Decades after the HIV/AIDS scare that swept the country in the ’80s and ’90s, much of the dialog surrounding the virus and disease has tapered off. But that silence can be dangerous.
In "When the Party Ends," a local short film produced by Source Productions, a program of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, in association with the Community AIDS Network, director KT Curran brings the topic back into the spotlight with the story of a Sarasota native who returns home from New York City to seek advice from his ex boyfriend after being exposed to HIV.
The film, which was co-written by Curran and co-star Frankie LaPace, premieres at 7 p.m. this Thursday at Hollywood 20 in the Sarasota Film Festival's SRQ Shorts program.
We recently sat down with Curran and artistic and sound director Brad Bryan to talk about the film, its importance and filmmaking in Sarasota.
So, this screening will be the film's premiere. How does it feel to show your film in Sarasota?
CURRAN: It's fantastic. This film was such a joint effort, so it's great for everyone to be able to come and celebrate together. Especially since this is a Sarasota story. And we love the energy and atmosphere of the Sarasota Film Festival; it's a world-class event.
What are your thoughts on the film industry in Sarasota?
CURRAN: We just saw Nick Morgulis' "Paradise, Fl," and it was top notch. I think there's a lot of interest in making more feature films here. The community continues to grow, and Sarasota continues to support it.
BRYAN: There's so much excitement around it. Every year, there are more and more talented people who continue to up their game.
What's it like to be able to combine your passions of filmmaking and social awareness?
CURRAN: We really believe in the message of the projects we take on. These are the types of stories we're drawn to, and if you look around at what's resonating with audiences right now, a lot of them are social dramas. We're tackling life's most complex issues and concerns through filmmaking. Above all, we want to tell a good story that people can relate to.
BRYAN: We're not always trying to put forth a specific point of view, either. Sometimes we just want to spotlight an issue and start a discussion or a debate. It's important to be provocative and exciting, and it's always great to be able to do something that's a little bigger than yourself.
What are you most looking forward to about the premiere?
CURRAN: I'm excited and a little nervous to see it on the big screen. I've shown it to friends and family on the computer, but this will be the first time I'll see it like this.
How do you hope audiences will react?
CURRAN: There's a lot of provocative content, and the film is aimed at an adult audience. But it's not just for shock value. We did a lot of research to do our best to make sure the film is reflecting the reality of people in this lifestyle.
BRYAN: We spoke to people who have a professional foot in these worlds — addiction psychiatrists, HIV counselors and other people in the medical field to get their take on it, and they all agreed that this is what they see. That was really important to us.
What do you hope people learn about the subject matter?
BRYAN: There's been a generational change in people's attitudes toward HIV. Florida has the highest rate of new infections in the country, and I think it's important to bring it up again in our community. There are a lot of people living in silence with this, and in a lot of ways, it's just as hidden as it used to be.
CURRAN: I think it's a subject matter and an entire world that a lot of people don't know anything about. So I hope they see the truth reflected through these universal themes that everyone can relate to: relationships, coming home, fear and growing up. It's not just a "gay" movie. There's something for everyone.