Monday, January 24, 2011

Sundance report: Man cannot live on AZT alone.

In 2002, Director David Weissman was at Sundance with his heady, 70s story of the Cockettes about a group a mostly gay, hippy infused performers who delighted San Francisco with their drug inspired performances (but left those snobby New Yorkers cold). It's interesting that he returns to Sundance with a San Francisco story that takes the gay excitement of the 70s and tempers it with the harsh reality of AIDS in the 80s. 

We Were Here interviews several San Franciscans who live through the AIDS crisis in the city by the bay. And  it makes for an emotional, surprisingly beautiful film.  This is a movie that could be depressing, because much of it discusses how many gay men died during the initial years of the AIDS epidemic.  But the movie doesn't focus on that. Instead, it focuses on how San Francisco responded.  It's easy to make fun of San Franciscans and their liberal, hippy ways.  Instead. this movie celebrates that attitude and, in the process, inspires a new sense of concern for others.

Maybe there's a reason why San Francisco embraced the gays and lesbians long before the rest of the country.  Maybe it's because there are people like Ed, one of the men interviewed in the move, who is so kind, so caring that even when drugs like AZT start to temper the AIDS situation, he still insists that, "man cannot live by AZT alone."  That's why he continues to care for AIDS patients with love and compassion.

This is a movie that made me want to be a better person.  To care more about the people that are hard to care about.  And to celebrate our shared humanity.

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