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We Were Here (I) (2011)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,103 users   Metascore: 94/100
Reviews: 7 user | 32 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.

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Title: We Were Here (2011)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Ed Wolf ...
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Paul Boneberg ...
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Daniel Goldstein ...
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Guy Clark ...
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Eileen Glutzer ...
Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paul Boneberg ...
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Bobbi Campbell ...
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Guy Clark ...
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...
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Ed Wolf ...
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Storyline

'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. Written by Anonymous

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September 2011 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
'How to find meaning while battling an illness that confounds it'
21 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The AIDS Epidemic first reached San Francisco and its vibrant gay community in the late 1970s. A mystery to doctors, both in form and how it was being transmitted, the disease that would come to be termed the 'gay plague' spread rapidly. By the start of the 1980s, men were rapidly presenting with symptoms of both Kaposi's sarcoma and pneumocystis pneumonia. With treatments having little effect, nothing could be done but to help them die.

Weissman and Weber's 'We Were Here' is not an exploration of the impact of the AIDS epidemic per se, but of a chapter in American social history. Do not expect any reflection on the ongoing African epidemic for example, the focus is the effect on individuals and the community in San Francisco that went beyond that simply of illness and death. How does one retain moral strength when friends and loved ones are dying of an illness that is not only untreatable, but for a long time, simply unknown? In as much, the directors should be commended for finding a cast of people both so involved in the crisis, yet affected in such different ways by the devastation wrought. The inclusion of a lesbian nurse who worked in the city's first specific-AIDS ward and later helped organize a number of clinical trials is a notable touch given the hostility between the gay and lesbian communities at the time. The manner in which the epidemic brought the two communities together, with lesbians holding blood banks to exploit their immunity, is one of the film's most tender and poignant moments.

Ultimately, what all the voices share are lives so deeply intertwined with the period that it is impossible not to get emotional listening to their recounting. Given the added context of the isolation and ostracision of the gay community during the period, one's admiration for the strength and perseverance shown by the men and women (one of whom is indeed HIV-positive) cannot be overstated.

Do not fear a kitsch, overly-sentimental eulogy to those who died. 'We Were Here' is as much about life-affirmation as it is death. The many who died would be proud to see how their loved ones have managed to move on and enjoy fulfilling lives, without ever forgetting them.

Concluding Thought: How to even begin to comprehend life as a homosexual in San Francisco at the time? The interviewees do their best to describe it, but I think even they know there are limits to what they can put across in words.


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