NESSUN' DORMA (NO ONE SLEEPS) SYNOPSIS San Francisco is preparing
for the premiere of a new staging of the Puccini opera, Turandot.
The passionate story of the Chinese princess, Turandot, and the
mysterious three riddles which are the key to her heart are on the
lips of opera buffs throughout the city.
At the same time, a serial killer is haunting the gay bars of the
city and is killing HIV positive young men. He paints the bodies
of each of his victims with a red cross. Is this blasphemous sex
play or the deeds of a mad homophobe? Local elections are around
the corner and the religious right is losing no time capitalizing
on the horror. They flood the television screens, decrying the supposed
moral degradation of homosexuality.
A young gay East German medical student, Stefan arrives in the
city for a mediacl congress and is following the trail of his dead
father, a once high ranking AIDS researcher in the East. Stefan
is investigating whether the HIV virus was an incremental result
of secret human experiments that were conducted in US prisons in
the seventies. Secret lists involving these biological experiments
are rumored to have surfaced in San Francisco. Stefan's research
is ridiculed by scientists and activists alike.
Stefan begins to neglect his work and is drawn into San Francisco's
gay club scene. In the midst of wide-spread AIDS education and strict
safe sex clubs, Stefan discovers that a shadow world is emerging
on the border of death: people back-sliding into high-risk sex and
HIV-infected gay men standing before the decision to fade away quietly
or to fully live out once more their desires, dreams and fears.
More than once, Stefan crosses the serial killer's trail and he
comes to the attention of Homicide Detective Louise Tolliver, the
SFPD officer in charge of the investigation. The tough woman detective
brings Stefan in for an interview. Like most people from the Eastern
bloc countries, Stefan distrusts officialdom and the police in particular.
Stefan and Tolliver play a cat and mouse game but simultaneously
seem to forge a strange connection.
Despite warnings and the near hysteria building in the city, Stefan
continues to cruise in the clubs. He becomes involved with the enigmatic
Jeffrey who fits vague descriptions of the murderer.. Its soon apparent
that Jeffrey has been infected for year with HIV. His connection
to a fundamentalist Christians is less apparent, but proves fateful.
Like the Chinese Princess Turandot, Jeffrey doesn't believe in the
signs of Stefan's feelings for him. Stefan wants to win Jeffrey's
trust and affection, but to achieve that, he has to free Jeffrey
from his own gay self-hatred. This requires a painful journey through
Jeffrey's dark past and lays bare Stefan's own carefully repressed
Motivated by a mixture of professional utility and personal sympathy,
Detective Louise Tolliver seeks further contact with Stefan in order
to open up new avenues in the case. Stefan blocks her out of distrust.
Unknowingly, he is drawn ever deeper into the Christian fanatics'
web of influence. Another murder is committed, and the trail of
the victim leads to the neurologist Dr. Burroughs who has also treated
Jeffrey in the past. Stefan's suspicion falls again on Jeffrey,
who again pushes Stefan away. Then Stefan discovers that Burroughs
is probably in possession of the secret government lists, and that
Burrough's influence is by no means confined to San Francisco. But
by this time Stefan is the hunted, just as Louise Tolliver begins
to focus her investigation on him. Stefan senses the solution is
near, but he knows that he can conquer the endless ritual of destroying
and being destroyed only if he confronts heads-on the greatest dangers:
Jeffrey, Burroughs, and his own darkest side.