Friday, March 4, 2011

Phil sees WE WERE HERE at The Castro Theatre-Feb. 27, 2011

Hello everybody out there in cyperspace, and welcome to the world premiere of my new movie blog, Phil's Film Adventures! After several years of seeing films in theaters, at film festivals, and on DVD,  I decided it was time to start blogging all my movie going experiences! And for my first blog, I decided to take a trip to San Francisco to see the documentary WE WERE HERE: THE AIDS YEARS IN SAN FRANCISCO at the world famous Castro Theatre.

WE WERE HERE is the latest documentary by David Weissman and Bill Weber, the creative team who brought the film THE COCKETTS to the big screen back in 2002. This powerful film chronicles the AIDS epidemic that struck the gay community in the Castro district in San Francisco back in the early 80s. Through on camera interviews by five individuals that were there, plus periodical and archival footage taken during that time, their stories bring to light what was actually transpiring and how the government paid little attention to the crisis. It also beautifully showed how the gay community came together to fight against what the press dubbed "The Gay Cancer."

The interviewees, who were caregivers, friends, lovers, researchers, activists and AIDS victims themselves, share their stories of struggle to contain the disease; by donating themselves to AIDS research, only to have those early tests fail with dire consequences. Some volunteered their time to assist those who could no longer help themselves, sharing up to date information on what and how to stop the spread of AIDS. Through these devastating times, the film also brought to light how women - more specifically lesbians - came to help their gay brothers in fighting the crisis through political protests and demanding more medical advancement.

After the screening, both directors came onto the stage and participated in a Q&A. The audience asked a dozen or so questions, and Wiessman and Weber answered them all. I was fortunate to partake in this as well. After it was over, I made my way towards them and thanked them for making such a moving piece of art.

The AIDS epidemic left San Francisco's gay community ravaged and broken, leaving wounds that would take years to heal. In the aftermath of it all, over 15,000 gay men died during that time. However, thanks to AIDS research, that number has declined significantly, but there is still no cure for the disease. But Weissman and Weber leave the audience with the idea that hope is still out there. The interviewees all came out of one of the darkest periods in GLBT history without giving up on hope. Some lost lovers, only to find love again. Some found themselves still at the forefront of the gay rights movement. The notion of not giving up made the gay community that much stronger, that more determined to live their lives without fear, and to face adversity together. WE WERE HERE is an amazing documentary that must be seen by everyone!

To learn more about the film and where it's playing, visit the their website at 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

1 comment:

  1. This would be something I would see in the privacy of my own home, with a box of tissues beside me, for fear of flooding the cinema with tears.
    What amazes me the most is how people today still refer to AIDS as a 'Gay Disease' despite most of the carriers are now hetrosexual.
    Thank you, Phil, for reviewing this.