Castro Movie Nights, the monthly film series, is getting ready to celebrate its second anniversary of raising money for HIV/AIDS service groups in Kansas City.

The movie nights were started by Russ Ptacek, an investigative reporter at Kansas City’s KSHB-TV. Ptacek says the station has been very supportive of his endeavor.

The films are screened on the third Thursday of every month at the Screenland Armour theater in North Kansas City. Screenland Armour only retains a small percentage of the ticket cost, and the rest goes to the beneficiaries serving the HIV/AIDS communities: Good Samaritan Project, Save Inc., the Kansas City Free Health Clinic and Hope Care Center.

Castro Movie Nights start off with a cocktail party in the Screenland lobby, which helps the evening become more of a social event. Ptacek said the crowds range from 70 to more than 100 people.

Ptacek said the May event — at 8 p.m. May 19 — would have a Mother’s Day theme. “We’re showing You Should Meet My Son. It’s through a special arrangement with PFLAG, my mom, and the producers.”

This screening, he said, “will not be starring a sponsor, like normal, but instead, the marquee will read: Castro Movie Nights Remembers Jim Siemens (my childhood friend from small town Pratt, Kan., who died of AIDS in 1990).”

“This will come just after Mother’s Day, so having PFLAG involved, my mom there and Jim’s mom all watching a movie about a wacky overprotective mom trying to make her son happy couldn’t be a better fit.”

You Should Meet My Son is written and directed by Keith Hartman and stars Joanne McGee, Carol Goans and Stewart Carrico, among others. The movie’s press site describes it as: “A comedy about a conservative Southern mom who discovers that her only son is gay. Determined that he won’t go through life alone, she sets out to find him a husband.”

The movie has received many awards, including Best Feature Winner, Ontario Reel Out Film Festival, 2010; Best Men’s Feature Winner, North Carolina Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, 2010; Best Screenplay Winner, Tenerife Festival Del Sol, 2010; and Best Domestic Feature Winner, Memphis Out Flix, 2010.

Jamie Rich, festival director for the Kansas City Gay & Lesbian Film and Video Festival tells me by email: “There’s a very nice KC connection to this film which you should also know about. The director, Keith Hartman, came here at my invitation to premiere his film. He had submitted You Should Meet My Son to me earlier that season, but he almost pulled out because he didn’t think it would be completely ready. I urged him to bring his best rough cut and share that with the audience, because gay folks especially need to know what it takes to get these films really created.

“So, KC was the first festival audience anywhere to see it, and he and the film got a joyous standing ovation from the capacity crowd that night From then, You Should Meet My Son has gone on to play festivals around the world.”

The film also uses a quote from Rich on their website: “A zany, screwball comedy in the spirit of Sordid Lives mixed with a splash of Auntie Mame.”

In the film’s production timeline of 2003-June 2010, they write, “2003: Keith pitches the idea for the script to his agents. Their response is approximately: “Are you high? Who wants to watch a movie about old ladies, homosexuals, and transvestites? Now go write something that Rob Schneider can star in.” About this time, they became Keith’s ex-agents.”

Of Castro Movie Nights, Ptacek said, “We’ve raised about $16,000 to fight HIV/AIDS in Kansas City. Having PFLAG and the producer backing us by not charging us a licensing fee will mean more money for May’s charity, Good Samaritan Project.”

Ptacek said that ticket prices to Castro Movie Nights have now been raised slightly, to $12, in order to give more to the charities. Tickets are sold for VIP seating at a slightly higher price.

Castro Movie Nights is planning a Second Anniversary Party in June. Their regular sponsorships are $350, but because they anticipate many more guests at this screening and they are trying to raise even more money, the June sponsorship anniversary event is $700. If you’d like to sponsor the June event or another month, please email: info@castromovienights.org.

For more information about Castro Movie Nights and to see pictures from previous events, visit: www.facebook.com/CastroMovieNights. For more information on You Should Meet My Son, visit www.YouShouldMeetMySon.com or on Facebook at “You Should Meet My Son.”

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