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.
Director David Weissman (The Cockettes screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival) chronicles this transformative era through the stories of five individuals who lived through the best and the worst of it. In the face of unheralded tragedy, these men and women relate how they were affected and the way their community united to help those suffering and prevent further deaths.
Elegiac but inspirational, We Were Here bears witness to the experiences of those who died—and, equally importantly, those who lived—in the earliest years of the AIDS epidemic. Its story is universal, showing the capacity for compassion and strength in all of us, even against unimaginable adversity. —Sundance Film Festival
I think the most profound thing that affected me while watching this documentary was the fact that I barely moved, noticing that it was hard to breathe at times. This incredibly sad yet powerfully uplifting story of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s is must-watch material for everybody, gay or straight, to truly understand the breadth of this illness and how it affected a select group of people. Incredible work.
Beautifully put together documentary on the impact that AIDS had in San Francisco gay community in the late 70s. Together with the TV Movie And The Band Played On, you get a pretty good picture of what really went on, how people cope with fear of the unknown, and how the human being has a marvellous capacity of surviving to grief and helping the other to do so.
Saw this at the Berlinale - it was really a moving piece, partially as a result of my personal life (born and raised in San Francisco, spent formative years volunteering at HIV-related community orgs), but also because of the impressive stories and images weaved together by Weissman. This film makes me sad through its study of life and death, but proud of my city and the community that survived these painful years.
Also: The campaign to give Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret a fair shake.