Novato pastor addresses suicide, grief in first feature-length film


You may well be expecting a film addressing suicide to have figures questioning their faith and God. You might not assume that from a movie prepared and directed by a pastor.

Nonetheless that is accurately what Tony Gapastione, pastor at Novato’s Quest, does in “Last Likelihood Charlene,” which is finding its environment premiere at Cinejoy — the digital showcase for the popular once-a-year Cinequest film competition — by April 17.

Its been 10 yrs considering that Gapastione’s grandmother died by suicide, additional than 20 many years because a great pal took his daily life.

“They had been far apart, about a 10 years, but they’re nevertheless impactful to me to the point that I’m however processing how to walk as a result of that tragedy,” he states. “I definitely like checking out grief. It’s own to me. And I find myself striving to do the job matters out by stories.”

Stories that he’s been turning into shorter films considering the fact that 2014, some of which have earned acclaim at movie fests.

“Last Prospect Charlene,” his initial comprehensive-length characteristic movie, is a dramedy about Charlene (Allison Ewing), a Los Angeles actor trying to salvage her relationship and break into the entertainment field as a screenwriter in the aftermath of her brother’s suicide (Gapastione plays the brother, Dominick, in a several brief scenes). Her grief overwhelms her and retains her estranged from good friends and beloved types, but little by little begins to move by means of it and locate hope when she reconnects with outdated acting pals, her sister-in-regulation, her partner and her mom.

Laughing to mend

The movie explores “how a single copes through that trauma in a pandemic coupled with the destructive effects of religious dogma, all as a drama comedy, for the reason that a single must snicker in buy to mend,” he claims.

Even though it is not a spiritual movie, it certainly brings up rattled religion. A a person position, Charlene declares, “I really do not believe in hell like I employed to. Its not a place we go to when we die, it’s just existence on Earth. We’re  all just living distinctive versions of hell.” And her mother, Lorena ( Allison Mills, from “The Ponder Years”), a longtime secretary at her church, struggles with a lack of comfort and understanding from her church and grumbles about the grief offers the congregation sends her, together with casseroles “made from a can.” Primarily she’s upset that her pastor could not guarantee that her son would be in heaven.

Like his brushes with suicide, Gapastione, who arrived at Quest in July of 2019, appropriate prior to the pandemic shutdown and when Marin was reeling from however an additional teen suicide, also has had his faith rattled. “I still dilemma God. What really is out there and is it Okay for me to convey that? And I’ve arrive to the spot of declaring, yeah, it is in fact vital for our human journey to approach the earth in a really open, genuine, transparent, vulnerable way.”

It is what compelled him to leave a church he’d been at for a extended time and consider a year off.

Questioning religion

“I felt like every single time I obtained at the rear of the pulpit to discuss, I had to have the responses. That prompted me to crumble beneath that pressure,” the Redwood City resident says. At Quest, he says, the congregation is as open to questioning faith as much as he is. “I can be who I am.” at?v=rCC3ujWfEdE

Gapastione has been serving in churches in a single ability or a further considering the fact that he was 22 many years outdated. The filmmaking bug strike him in seminary school.

“I imagined there was these a disconnect from church and the actual neighborhood. I imagined I could really check out my queries and assist other individuals investigate their thoughts as a result of movie and storytelling,” he claims.

Rising up in Chicago, Gapastione heard several messages in his church youth group about how Hollywood would lead folks astray. So he became insular. “I felt a pull to want to do extra issues outdoors a creating with a cross on it .I required to discover how a Hollywood narrative could open people’s hearts and minds, even my own. I did not come to feel protected to do it.”

‘Sweet and soulful’

Through his year off, when he questioned whether he’d at any time preach once again, Gapastione started off his movie company, BraveMaker, whose mission is to elevate tales of justice, variety and inclusion. “Last Likelihood Charlene” is proof of that, showcasing Black, Latino, queer and disabled actors, and an equivalent harmony of male and female people.

The Bay Area News Group’s Randy Myers suggests the film is “heartfelt, sweet and soulful.”

Gapastione is hopeful his movie resonates with viewers in strategies he did not assume.

“One of my beloved things men and women say when looking at my films that I did not intend is that they received some empathy or they felt viewed or they connected to a character in a way that I didn’t foresee,” he states. “The interesting factor is no matter what you take away is what I want you to takeaway. I want them to takeaway the freedom to convey whatever suffering or emotion they have and not experience judged. I want persons to come to feel connected to what their physique is telling them, and hopefully they feel absolutely free to normalize asking for help.”

Editor’s take note: For enable or information, connect with the Marin Suicide Prevention Hotline at 415-499-1100.


What: “Last Possibility Charlene,” element of Cinejoy/Cinequest

When: By means of April 17

Where by: On the net

Admission:  $3.99 all-entry go $129



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