We Were Here
WE WERE HERE instantly leaps to the front rank of films about the AIDS epidemic. In the early 1970s, in the shadow of the Stonewall riots and the free-love movement, gay men and lesbians flocked to San Francisco to find acceptance.
They formed a thriving, tight-knit community until the arrival of AIDS in the early 1980s drove them under siege. David Weissman and Bill Weber (who co-directed the 2001 documentary, The Cockettes, chronicling San Francisco’s legendary theater troupe of hippies and drag queens, 1969 – 1972) revisits San Francisco a decade later, as its flourishing gay community is hit with an unimaginable disaster. It takes a reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS through the stories of five individuals who lived through the best and the worst of the era. The film speaks to our capacity as individuals to rise to the occasion, and to the incredible power of a community coming together with love, compassion, and determination.
It has the force of a great war documentary. There are moments that are almost unbearable. These are followed by still other moments, equally unbearable, until the emotional strain of hearing of other people's sorrow and tribulation becomes simply too much - certainly too much for words. And always, there's this thought: If just hearing this is so devastating, what must it have been like to live through it. Or not live through it.
Hot Docs: Tues May 3 (9:30pm) @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Hot Docs: Thurs May 5 (1:45pm) @ ROM Theatre
Theatrical release coming Summer 2011