MiniReview: "We Were Here" (film)



These two guys. I'm sure they never guessed their kiss would become iconic.  

What is it?

An American documentary from 2011, directed by David Weissman and Bill Weber.


What’s it about?

The AIDS epidemic as it played out in San Francisco, told through still images, archival footage, and interviews with a handful of people who lived through it.


It seems as though there have been an awful lot of documentaries and films about AIDS, a number of which we've looked at here. Is this one anything different?

This one is very special. Actually, I saw it a few years ago and have never forgotten it, and decided to have another look so I could review it here. I think what makes this film so affecting is its very small focus: not the world, not the United States, not the New York gay community (which has been the subject of so many films and plays), but the very tight-knit queer community in San Francisco, where the response to the epidemic became a model for other places to try to emulate.


That all sounds interesting, and worthy. But I’m not sure I have a sense of why I might want to watch this rather than another AIDS doc.

It’s really the interviews. They are unforgettable. Unlike other documentaries, where you will often have snippets from many people, this one has only five interviewees, so you get a very strong sense of them as individuals as you accompany them through their experience of the epidemic. They are all beautifully articulate (and just beautiful), and their testimony is profoundly moving. In the end, this doc is a remarkably uplifting portrait of the best of the human spirit coming to the fore at a time of almost unimaginable trauma.



Two. I would recommend this documentary to anyone, for its profound humanity. But for queer folk, it is a unique tribute to the LGBT community at its best. This is a film I will watch again and again. It’s raw and painful, but so, so inspiring. 

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