STIGMA = DEATH
Stigma isn’t silent. Whether it’s spoken at the pulpit or spoken under one’s breath, in political rhetoric or private conversation, it is loud. It is insidious. It is lethal.
In The Last One: The Story of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, we follow the AIDS Memorial Quilt from inception to the present day to uncover how stigma has fueled the growth of the greatest pandemic in human history.
$35,000 with 500 backers to help us finish this film!
We have spent the last year and a half documenting stories of the Quilt and sorting through archival footage. Now we need to make it to the finish line and get this film out there, but we cannot do it without your help!
This film is a story of how stigma, discrimination, social status and the lack of access to care exacerbate a disease. A disease that has already claimed the lives of roughly 30 million people and currently infects another 34 million men, women and children around the globe.
The Last One tells the story of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the people the quilt memorializes, and the individuals who have spent their lives speaking up and against the stigma of the epidemic.
In the eighties and nineties, as the United States gay community was being ravaged by AIDS, families and friends of the dying fought a public battle to find treatment and understanding. The quilt was part of that call for justice and provided a way for people to respond to the threat of AIDS. Panel by panel, individuals and groups devised a way to express their fear, their love, their passion, their politics and their grief. Panel makers were family members, friends, activists, quilt makers, churchgoers, and fans. And the panels followed a simple form: the cloth is cut in the size of a standard coffin and includes at least the name of its honoree. Each panel is then sewn together to make a block 12 feet by 12 feet. Ceremonies are held displaying the quilt pieces as the names of the dead are read. Almost three decades after the first panel was made, The AIDS Memorial Quilt has become the largest ongoing community art project in the world.
Now more than 50 miles long were it to be laid out end-to-end, The AIDS Memorial Quilt is too large to display in any one location. Yet, even at this size, it does not begin to reflect the number of people who have succumbed to the pandemic. As the film traces The Quilt’s history and continued growth, we examine how stigma, discrimination, social status and the lack of access to care exacerbate a disease that has already claimed the lives of 25 million people.
If there is one word that can be stitched directly to HIV/AIDS, it is stigma. And in this case, the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS can be traced directly to society’s repudiation of the “other,” the outcast of society known by various pejoratives: queer, drug addict, prostitute, deviant. Despite the fact that the vast majority of people succumbing to the disease today are mainstream heterosexuals, the lingering ideology that HIV/AIDS is a disease created by behavior outside the norm continues to be emphasized and promulgated through the media and cultural institutions. Practical behavioral changes—safe sex, testing, drug compliance, and awareness—are critical to ending AIDS, but will not be successful if we do not also end discrimination.
The Last One is a feature-length documentary that frames the quest to sew the last panel into the Quilt, representing the end of AIDS.
The Last One panel, the story behind the title
In 1987, a single panel--unlike any other panel submitted before or since--was delivered to The NAMES Project Foundation/AIDS Memorial Quilt. The caretakers of The Quilt knew just what to do with this panel: Hold on to it and to the hope it conveyed until it could be sewn into The AIDS Memorial Quilt as "The Last One."
The Last One is both a quiet prayer and a stark reminder of all that we have been working to achieve – and with each new panel, each display, with each new scientific advancement and, most importantly, with each moment of recognition that AIDS is about all of us – we inch closer to realizing the goal: The Last One.
Through archival footage, vérité scenes and interviews with founder Cleve Jones, self-described "Hand Maiden of the Quilt" Gert McMullin, and other early volunteers and panel makers, The Last One uncovers the birth of The AIDS Memorial Quilt and its subsequent impact on politics, science and the media. Through activists like Patricia Nalls and Craig Washington, the film explores the role the Quilt continues to play as a response to a disease that, while treatable for some, still affects vulnerable communities around the world.
Why this Project Matters
The Last One addresses the complicated issue of the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the US. With 50,000 new infections a year, this disease is still seriously affecting our country and yet is covered in the media less and less. Additionally, The Last One specifically focuses on the current impact on women and African Americans, two critically affected but often overlooked populations in terms of HIV/AIDS reporting.
The Quilt has grown from a few hundred of panels containing hundreds of names to more than 47,000 panels containing more than 94,000 names. More than 16 million individuals around the world have attended displays and witnessed the extraordinary power, beauty, love, rage and sorrow of this multitude of voices. Today the Quilt is a handmade testament to both the struggle of the early days of the epidemic and its continued impact today, as panels representing lives lost to the disease continue to stream in from all over the world. The Quilt's powerful lessons and poignant imagery provide compelling evidence that HIV/AIDS can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any age.
Now is the time to re-double our efforts – to join together and affirm our humanity; to make clear our connections to and responsibility for one another; to usher in the beginning of the end of AIDS and make dream of The Last One a reality.
Two summers ago (2012) was the 25th anniversary of the Quilt and the Quilt’s return to Washington D.C. as part of the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival. As we were working with the Names Project Foundation on bringing the Quilt to the festival, we knew we had to begin filming immediately. We have completed filming, but there is a lot left to do!
How Kickstarter will help us!
After we completed our first rough cut, we realized we needed more threads to be pulled together to create a complete narrative. We continued to pay out of pocket for our team to shoot and edit but we knew that the well would dry up soon. Today we have a critical need to find additional funds to complete post-production - color correction, graphics, music and sound design. We also need to get the film out on the festival circuit and that requires significant funding that we don’t have.
Why we are the right people to tell this story
Thanks to our relationship with The NAMES Project Foundation and its executive director, Julie Rhoad, our team had unlimited and unprecedented access to The Quilt, its archives and people (activists, healthcare leaders, celebrities, those living with the disease) who care about ending HIV/AIDS. We all need to do our part. This is our contribution.
Nadine Licostie - Director/Producer
Nadine's range of experience in the film and television industry spans nearly 20 years and a variety of disciplines. With a passion for theatre, film, television and digital media, she has produced projects with some of the top talent in television, film and theatre.
As a director, Nadine is focused on creating stories that resonate politically and socially while also attaining entertainment value. Film and television projects include The Good Mother of Abangoh (documentary), The Best of the GLAAD Media Awards (MTV Networks), Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund (PSA Campaign) and Be an Ally, Be A Friend PSA Campaign.
Nadine produced Phil Allocco's short film, Joseph Henry, which has traveled the festival circuit and won numerous awards including "Best of Category" at the Damah Film Festival, the "Audience Choice Award" at the Hollyshorts Film Festival, "Best Cinematography" at the Staten Island Film Festival, the "2nd Place Prize" at the IndieProducer Short Film Contest and won the "Special Jury Award" at the USA Film Festival.
Sheila Smith - Director of Photography
Sheila is a director of photography (DP) and Steadicam operator. She has worked on independent features, commercials, documentaries, television shows, sporting events and music videos in the United States and in numerous countries around the world.
R.A. Fedde – Editor
R. A. Fedde has edited everyone and everything from two past presidents to paparazzi on the run. Her work includes 10 Days that Unexpectedly Changed America: Antietam, winner of a 2006 Emmy Award for Best Non-Fiction Series. Her editing onFRONTLINE Growing Up Online garnered another nomination for a 2009 Emmy. In 2004, Fedde won the prestigious Gracie Allen Award for her work as editor on Pure Magic: The Mother Daughter Bond.
Her first feature-length documentary project, Combat Diary, was nominated for an Emmy in 2006. $ellebrity, featuring candid interviews with Jennifer Aniston, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez, and a slew of other celebs, premiered at South by Southwest in 2012 and opened in theaters across the US in early 2013. Variety wrote of $ellebrity, "the visuals sparkle, and R.A. Fedde's editing is seamless."
Most recently, Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde, edited and co-produced by Fedde, premiered at Slamdance 2013 and won the Audience Award at the Sarasota International Film Festival as well as Best Documentary at the Black Hills Film Festival. It opens in theaters nationwide in October 2013.
Connie Grazia – Executive Producer
Connie is a principal of Red Thread Productions and an award winning producer/director. She also serves as a board member of The Abangoh Children’s Project. Since she co-founded RTP in 2000, Connie has worked on both for profit and non-profit projects including live events, commercials, corporate videos and documentaries. The “Red Thread” woven through all of these projects is powerful storytelling – something her work has been recognized for with numerous industry awards including several Telly’s and a gold Effie.
Jim Papoulis – Composer
Jim has a distinctive musical style that combines contemporary sounds with musical traditions from around the globe. Traveling worldwide, Papoulis works with international artists and ensembles in order to explore and create a sound for a global community. He is a founder of The Foundation for Small Voices and is dedicated to children and music. In his professional life, Jim composes, orchestrates, and conducts music from many genres and is known for work that connects classical and world sounds with contemporary rhythms, voices, and computer technology. His work includes composition and orchestration for contemporary live corporate shows, scores for film, commercials, dance, and pop songs, and writing for classical ensembles, infusing a traditional sound with contemporary instrumentation.
Interviews in the film
- Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt
- Gert McMullin
- Mike Smith, co-founder of The Names Project
- David Gere (UCLA)
- C. Everett Koop, U.S. Surgeon General, 1982-1989
- Anne Balsamo, Dean of Media Studies, The New School
- Christopher Bates, Director, U.S. HHS Office of HIV/AIDS Policy
- Patricia Nalls
- Stephanie Laster
- Julie Rhoad, President & CEO of The Names Project Foundation
- Ama Saran, Postdoctoral Fellow, NIH
- Jasmine Guy
- Anthony Knight
- Avery Owens
- Craig Washington
- Antron Reshaud Olukayode
- Balinda Cunningham, Artist and Activist
- Harriet Sanford, President, National Education Association Foundation
- Alan Landis
- Archival Footage of Whoopi Goldberg, President Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, Vice-President Al Gore, President Bill Clinton
- Other Appearances by: Jada Harris, The Names Project and Rev. Dorinda Henry, Annie Lennox, Members of the Women's Collective
Risks and challenges
We expected access to be a problem but we have been fortunate to have complete and open access to The Names Project Foundation (home of The AIDS Memorial Quilt). Everyone has been extremely willing and open to sharing their stories, along with their personal photos and memorabilia. Access has not been any sort of issue on this project -- in fact, quite surprisingly, often the contrary. For instance, we expected to have a little trouble getting access to film the Quilt display at a high school which is shown in the film; however, the school was actually quite proud of the display and eager to have us participate.
We are confident about being able to finish this project, being that most of the filming is complete and most of the pitfalls have already happened and been dealt with.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)