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Phurba Tashi Sherpa
William, a once obese and depressed adolescent, is able to move past his teenage years when he moves to the city and comes out as being gay. When he returns home though, he can't cope with his memories.
'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
Insightful documentary about the first years of AIDS, and how it affected people
I saw this film as part of the Ghent filmfestival 2011. At the time of this story (the 80's) the AIDS epidemic was something we read about in newspapers and magazines, at a safe distance so to speak. What I remember most was the long time it took before the underlying causes became clear. There were several theories at first, because no one could find a common denominator for two target groups that suffered most: hard drugs addicts and homosexuals. Nowadays, it is easy for us to see the connection as being obvious.
What we easily overlooked at that time was the impact it had on people that were hit, in combination with the hopelessness of their situation in the absence of a cure. Two quotes I can't wipe from my mind:  "Can't go on like this" at a moment that many friends and acquaintances died, without any effective remedy in sight. And quote  "Don't want to come out of this war like my father came out of the war he fought in", as if wondering how the world would be after this bad interval was over, and whether residual trauma's were to be expected. Not only quotes like these, but also the honest stories told by survivors that were interviewed, certainly left an impression on us.
All in all, I could do nothing more than giving the maximum score (5 out of 5) for the audience award when leaving the theater. We saw a very comprehensive overview of how people (re)acted on the disease, presented by all sorts of people involved. It also makes us think about possible new diseases that may befall on us. For example bird flu (H5N1) springs to mind, due to a recent publication about related work in Rotterdam (NL). While imagining that such a virus breaks loose, either this one or a new one for that matter, it is difficult to suppress post-apocalyptic visions about what may happen.
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