A tip of the hat to Alistair Appleton over at Do Bhuddists Watch Telly for his post on the Documentary We Were Here by David Weissman. The film tells the history of the early 1980s when the AIDS epidemic grew and wiped out thousands. As Alistair says:
More than 15,000 people died at the height of the epidemic in just the [San Francisco] Bay Area. All in the space of four or five years.
Unlike the films And The Band Played On (which uses actors to portray the actual events of the time), or Longtime Companion (which is a fictionalised account of the rise of AIDS), We Were Here has real people telling their stories of that time and place (San Francisco).
Martin and I are of the generation who faced the horror full on, and lost friends to AIDS. We will certainly watch the film (it’s being released next month on DVD) and remember. I also hope that some of the younger generation of gays will watch the film and get a sense of what we went through. The story is not all doom and gloom, however; as the plot summary on IMDB says:
‘We Were Here’ is the first film to take a deep and reflective look back at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco, and how the City’s inhabitants dealt with that unprecedented calamity. It explores what was not so easy to discern in the midst of it all – the parallel histories of suffering and loss, and of community coalescence and empowerment. Though this is a San Francisco based story, the issues it addresses extend not only beyond San Francisco but also beyond AIDS itself. ‘We Were Here’ speaks to our societal relationship to death and illness, our capacity as individuals to rise to the occasion, and the importance of community in addressing unimaginable crises.