The Last One
By Hana Khalyleh, April 9, 2015.
When The Last One director Nadine Licostie contacted Kit Kloeckl, executive director of Aunt Rita’s Foundation, with a trailer for her documentary on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, Kloeckl knew he wanted to contribute to the project.
As a result, Aunt Rita’s was given the exclusive right to premiere the film in Arizona and, on March 21, the film screened first time at the J. Levine Auction & Appraisal LLC in Scottsdale.
Photo courtesy of thelastonefilm.com.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt, which holds the world record for the largest piece of community art, was created by human rights activist Cleve Jones to call attention to the number of people suffering from AIDS. The quilt consists of panels commemorating the lives of those who have passed away of AIDS-related causes and complications. At the time of filming, the quilt contained over 48,000 panels.
“I’ll bet you Cleve Jones had no idea what he was starting,” Kloeckl said. “He just knew he had to do something, and what he did became a movement. So, as for what he thought at the time, I think he just thought it was the right thing to do. And I’ll tell you, it definitely was the right thing to do.”
Ahead of the screening, LGBT community members and allies were greeted as they filed into the auction house and took their seats. The gathering of 85 didn’t quite fill up the space, and Kloeckl addressed the group with a few words before the movie started, thanking the crowd for coming to celebrate the film and telling them that there would be time for discussion afterwards.
The Last One chronicles the history and rippling effect of the AIDS Memorial Quilt through the stories of the panel creators, of those currently living with the disease and of those whose names have been immortalized in its stitches.
“For me, going through the film, it took me back to the days of losing friends, back when people were dropping left and right. It’s just such an impactful movie,” Kloeckl said regarding the first time he saw the movie. “We have buried a lot of people because of this disease, but we have the power to stop this disease. I guarantee you, once the movie ends, the crowd [at the premiere] will be absolutely silent.”
The message Kloeckl hopes the film brings to Arizona is one of awareness –not only the effects of the disease, but of the disastrous stigma and ignorance that surrounds it.
“If I had diabetes, would I worry about telling people? No. Because it’s just a disease. But AIDS? People are facing these stigmas everyday,” Kloeckl said.
According to the documentary, one in four new HIV infections occurs in youth from the ages of 13 to 24 years old. Currently, Arizona schools have no legal obligation to teach curriculum material on HIV or other STIs.
“People need to get tested for this as often as they can,” Kloeckl said. “Especially our younger generation. I think they’ll walk away from this film understanding the magnitude, and that they are at risk ... where else are people going to get their information?”
From here, Kloeckl’s vision is to bring The Last One to high schools and colleges across the state, starting with Arizona State University, as well as several Maricopa Community Colleges.
Part of the story the film tells is that there are 34 million people infected with AIDS worldwide today.
When the documentary ended, the crowd’s faces were transfixed on the screen, some wet with tears, others appearing deep in thought. There was no applause; it was a heavy silence that lingered in the empty spaces in the auction house, making the room feel full, at last.
For more information, visit https://thelastonefilm.com.