David Weissman’s important documentary “We were here” is about the impact of the AIDS crisis in one of the hardest hit areas: our own Castro neighborhood.This is not a film about AIDS itself, but how it affected both the people as well as the emerging gay culture of Castro. Shmoopy and I were at the final showing this week at the Castro Theater on Wednesday night. David Weissmann introduced himself and the film to the applause of the large audience who had come out in the rain to catch the last show. The crisis and the impact are shown through the eyes of people who lived in the neighborhood, and who became involved in various ways in helping friends and strangers as the plague spread. The film brings out the fear that became a part of daily life, and also the strength in people that times of crisis bring out.
We were not the only people crying and sniffling as stories about people who were well suddenly became ill, and maybe just weeks later were dead. Those of us who did live through the 80s and early 90s all have friends and loved ones who died, and it was scary. Often people didn’t know until they were suddenly very sick. And even if you knew there was no treatment, or treatments that made people worse. And as the epidemic went on and on, the survivors wore out, too.
Among all the interesting perspectives the film touches on is how AIDS changed the emerging gay and lesbian movements, which it brought closer together. It also created the stage for more varied movements to raise money to care for people, and get the government to act of the crisis including Visual Aid and Act Up!
Go see it.
R.I.P Don and Tom