June 21, 2024


Law can do.

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


You could anticipate a movie addressing suicide to have figures questioning their faith and God. You could possibly not assume that from a motion picture prepared and directed by a pastor.

However that is specifically what Tony Gapastione, pastor at Novato’s Quest, does in “Last Opportunity Charlene,” which is finding its earth premiere at Cinejoy — the virtual showcase for the preferred once-a-year Cinequest movie competition — via April 17.

Its been 10 decades considering that Gapastione’s grandmother died by suicide, a lot more than 20 decades since a very good mate took his lifetime.

“They had been significantly aside, more than a ten years, but they are even now impactful to me to the stage that I’m nonetheless processing how to walk by that tragedy,” he claims. “I seriously like exploring grief. It’s personalized to me. And I locate myself striving to do the job issues out by way of tales.”

Stories that he’s been turning into short movies considering that 2014, some of which have earned acclaim at film fests.

“Last Possibility Charlene,” his to start with comprehensive-size element movie, is a dramedy about Charlene (Allison Ewing), a Los Angeles actor seeking to salvage her marriage and split into the enjoyment business as a screenwriter in the aftermath of her brother’s suicide (Gapastione plays the brother, Dominick, in a few temporary scenes). Her grief overwhelms her and keeps her estranged from buddies and beloved types, but gradually starts to transfer via it and discover hope when she reconnects with previous performing mates, her sister-in-legislation, her spouse and her mom.

Laughing to recover

The film explores “how 1 copes by means of that trauma in a pandemic coupled with the negative impression of spiritual dogma, all as a drama comedy, since just one must laugh in buy to mend,” he claims.

Although it is not a religious movie, it unquestionably delivers up rattled religion. A a person stage, Charlene declares, “I really do not think in hell like I used to. Its not a place we go to when we die, it is just lifetime on Earth. We’re  all just residing various variations of hell.” And her mother, Lorena ( Allison Mills, from “The Wonder Years”), a longtime secretary at her church, struggles with a deficiency of comfort and comprehension from her church and grumbles about the grief packages the congregation sends her, such as casseroles “made from a can.” Typically she’s upset that her pastor couldn’t warranty that her son would be in heaven.

Like his brushes with suicide, Gapastione, who arrived at Quest in July of 2019, proper prior to the pandemic shutdown and when Marin was reeling from nonetheless one more teen suicide, also has experienced his faith rattled. “I nonetheless query God. What seriously is out there and is it Ok for me to categorical that? And I have arrive to the spot of stating, yeah, it is actually needed for our human journey to method the earth in a incredibly open, straightforward, transparent, susceptible way.”

It’s what pressured him to go away a church he’d been at for a extensive time and acquire a year off.

Questioning faith

“I felt like each time I obtained guiding the pulpit to discuss, I experienced to have the answers. That brought on me to crumble beneath that stress,” the Redwood City resident states. At Quest, he claims, the congregation is as open up to questioning faith as a lot as he is. “I can be who I am.”


Gapastione has been serving in church buildings in just one potential or an additional due to the fact he was 22 years old. The filmmaking bug strike him in seminary school.

“I believed there was such a disconnect from church and the actual local community. I thought I could truly take a look at my concerns and assist other persons examine their queries through film and storytelling,” he says.

Developing up in Chicago, Gapastione listened to quite a few messages in his church youth group about how Hollywood would lead people today astray. So he grew to become insular. “I felt a pull to want to do a lot more factors outside a setting up with a cross on it .I needed to discover how a Hollywood narrative could open people’s hearts and minds, even my own. I didn’t feel secure to do it.”

‘Sweet and soulful’

For the duration of his year off, when he questioned no matter if he’d at any time preach again, Gapastione started out his film corporation, BraveMaker, whose mission is to elevate stories of justice, diversity and inclusion. “Last Probability Charlene” is evidence of that, showcasing Black, Latino, queer and disabled actors, and an equal balance of male and female people.

The Bay Region Information Group’s Randy Myers states the movie is “heartfelt, sweet and soulful.”

Gapastione is hopeful his film resonates with viewers in means he didn’t anticipate.

“One of my preferred things people today say when seeing my movies that I did not intend is that they got some empathy or they felt observed or they similar to a character in a way that I didn’t anticipate,” he says. “The amazing matter is whatsoever you consider absent is what I want you to takeaway. I want them to takeaway the flexibility to express whatever ache or emotion they have and not feel judged. I want persons to sense connected to what their entire body is telling them, and hopefully they truly feel free to normalize asking for help.”

Editor’s observe: For assistance or facts, get in touch with the Marin Suicide Avoidance Hotline at 415-499-1100.


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

When: By way of April 17

Where: On-line

Admission:  $3.99 all-accessibility pass $129

Facts: creatics.org/cinejoy, bravemaker.com/past-possibility-charlene


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