For me, one of the standout films at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival was David Weissman’s chronicle of the AIDS epidemic “We Were Here.” A very specific depiction of the onset of AIDS in America, the film focuses on the stories of five individuals who lived in San Francisco at the time – four gay men and a heterosexual woman who was a nurse in an AIDS ward. Through which, it provides a powerful snapshot of a part of American history that few seem to fully be aware of. Through certainly not the definitive AIDS documentary, Weissman provides an affecting sense of intimacy through focusing on just five people and one city. When you walk out of “We Were Here,” you most definitely feel like you were.
“I was trying to find a way to make a movie that was illuminating and healing for the audience, and also a process of healing for myself as well,” Weissman said before yesterday’s screening of the film. “I moved to San Francisco in 1976 and found myself in this community of gay hippy boys that are politically active and naked at the beach and taking acid. We were just enjoying this exuberant period in this emerging gay movement in this incredibly beautiful and amazing city… Then as the epidemic came in, life changed. It’s taken a period of time for me personally and for the community to be willing to go back and revisit what we went through, both the horrors and the beauty of it.”
Watch the emotional Q&A from the screening below: