Since it’s inception, the Facebook Wall for We Were Here has provided a forum for an outpouring of emotion: powerful reactions to the film, tributes to loved ones lost in the epidemic, reflections on the time from those who lived through it as well as those who know nothing about the early years of AIDS. Please join us there and become a part of the Facebook We Were Here community. Below are some samples of comments that have been written:
William Frederick Steuernagel V The single most powerful theatrical experience I have ever had. When I hear men today talk about what went on back in those days I always picture these men, who are now in their 40s and 50s, as still being men in their 40s and 50s just with a little more hair. But the guys in the pictures looked so much like me and my friends that it struck a raw nerve in me. They were just as young and dumb as I am now. That could have been me. There were, pardon my use of the word, characters that I know would have been me if I had been born twenty years earlier.
It wasn’t just another film about the dark travesties that happened in those hospital rooms. No, that would have sent me home unchanged. It was the humor, the compassion, and the friendship I saw that I could identify with so well. I thank the filmmaker and those interviewed for sharing their stories and giving this generation just that much more gratitude to the courageous generation before us.
Michael Whitbread I saw this film for the first time when it screened recently in Australia, and it is one of the most moving films I have ever seen. I’m lucky enough to have been born after the worst of the AIDS crisis, so this film was such a extraordinary eye-opener. I felt such empathy with the young men affected by HIV. All those pictures in the Bay Area Reporter – those guys look just like me and my buddies now. I know this film would have been very painful for the interviewees to make. But I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reminding me that this remains such an important issue, and that we GLBTIQ people across the world are linked by our common struggle but also our capacity to care for one another. Such a powerful film.
Linda Andrews I was extremely moved by this film. I am coming at it from a totally different perspective, being straight and not knowing anyone who died from AIDS during this time. It opened a window for me and gave me some insight into what it must have been like. The pictures were terrible in their honesty, the thoughts and remembrances of those so close to it brought me to tears. So very many were lost to this horrific disease. The images and facts affected me very deeply. I highly recommend it to all, whether you lived through it or have just heard of it or know nothing about it at all. It will open your eyes.I HIGHLY recommend that all of your see this wonderful and moving film, be it at your GLBT Film festivals or next year when the finished product comes out. IT IS NOT TO BE MISSED!!!
Jin Yung Kim Watched this in Seoul. Unflinching, heart-wrenching, and deeply inspiring.
Kaj-anne Pepper I watched We Were Here, with a group of faeries and queers. We were across the board of gender and age. Lesbians, trans men, gay men, and queer men. We held each others hands and absorbed this film. I left this film with tears in my eyes, with love in my heart and a piece of the puzzle I was missing. Thank you for giving me an avenue to experience the grief of my ancestors, the generation above me, my elders. Grief which informs so much of my sexuality and the sexual climate around me. What struck me most about your film was the overwhelming composure of the folks you interviewed. They had been through the wringer. And, now… years later when asked to recall it they were open, forthright and authentic. I can only image what you had to cut. We are blessed to have seen that movie and future generations will benefit from it’s presence. Thank you.
Wally Coburg You have created one the most moving explorations of a pivotal time in gay history that I have ever witnessed. Moreover, you have done it in such a way as to avoid the maudlin and make it a truly uplifting and spiritual experience.
Britt Adas Wow. I don’t even have words. I am in tears. All of that love and pain and loss and suffering. The fear of not knowing what was happening, if there would be a cure and when. This is something my generation can’t even fathom. We take so many medical advances today for granted because they’ve just been around for us, forgetting that the reason we have these treatments in place is because very brave, very sick, very scared people gave their lives in clinical trials. We see numbers and dates and they don’t mean anything to us. We need to remember that these were people, lovers, friends, family, children.
I know another epidemic like this could happen in America – where something spread so wildly and kills so quickly where there is no known cure. I cry because I don’t know if any place in this country will ever have the same response that the gay community in San Francisco did during the height of the AIDS epidemic. We need more people like Ed Wolf and Eileen Glutzer and the others who selflessly took care of those in need, possibly risking infection themselves, but giving themselves wholly to people who needed them most.
Thanks to everyone for being such an active and important part of a community that so badly needed you. Thank you for sharing your painful stories (as well as fond memories of loved ones) so people in my generation can understand.
Ian Iqbal Rashid Many thanks–just saw it in London. Incredibly powerful, warm and touching. And hopeful. Hope you get a very wide distribution.
Shaun Dellenty Just saw the film in London. I felt privileged to be able to connect back through the years to moments initially of great joy to intimate moments of great suffering. The film is heartbreaking and yet uplifting in terms of the capacity of human spirit. I hope one day in my lifetime this story gets its ending, but in the meantime may this important work get a wide audience. Thank you to all involved.
Brenden Shucart I just just sobbed my way through We Were Here. I’m humbled at the sacrifices, and the services provided by the generations that came before us. The losses they endured. I kept thinking, “this could be us; this could be my friends and family.” I don’t know what I would do without you all. I don’t know how I’d live if I lost everyone. We are (I am) so lucky.
Joy Patin The film was incredible. I was a teenager when the AIDS epidemic hit, and I only remember bits and pieces as things were mostly whispered and gossiped back then in my Catholic family. Your film stirred many emotions for me and instigated an inner retrospect of friends that I have lost to AIDS: the cute boy in high school who never dated; the friend’s brother who died and his family did not hold a service; the friend in Atlanta whom I only knew as dying; the hair dresser who never came out of the closet then suddenly quit his job to fight “cancer.” There have been others. Thank you for the film and for the opportunity to see its world premiere.
Jim Foster I have never been so impacted in my life with such validating truth honoring my clan. Without a doubt this reflection was the single most powerful documentary I’ve ever seen. I lived that era and will never ever forget the beauties we lost…. Thank you for an incredible tribute.
Jonathan Kolon Great film. Well done. You’ve captured a magical balance of comfort, celebration, memory, pain and beauty. Your choice of angles to tell the stories from was very warm. The subject matter is difficult for many people in the audience, myself included, but I must say this is the most comfortable film I’ve seen at Sundance. Hope you guys have a great time here in Utah, know that you are always welcome. And David, please tell Ed Wolf that he is now the voice in my head that calms me down when the going gets rough. I laughed when at the Q and A, the crowd got worried and asked “Where’s Ed?”. Your cast is extremely likable which adds to the fun of the movie.
Heather Delagi I can’t thank all of you enough for making this film! I struggled to get a full breath for a good hour after I left the theatre. This film is one of the best documentaries I have seen, and the only one I have found that touches this subject matter so thoroughly and deeply. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
Gavin Andrews Beyond. Beyond anything and everything. I had such an intense experience at the Castro Theater while screening the movie with everyone. While I “was not there” because I am of the generation that immediately followed the beginning of the epidemic, I appreciate and always validate what our community had to go through during that time. Thank God that I am gay and I am part of a group of people that can persevere through anything and always in some way teach love. It (the movie) is a real love story.
Cédric Pilard I can’t stop thinking about this documetary since I left the Castro theater. I came home thinking about it, i went to bed thinking about it, i woke up thinking about it… I wasn’t here. Actually i was just born in 1980. I came to learn, learn about people I met since I recently moved in SF. Learn about the city I just choose to be home. The power of documentary and the importance to not forget. I hope this film will be presented in my home country, back in France and all over Europe too. If help is needed for the subtitles, I am here.
Rebecca Hanna Henrie I saw this amazing film at Sundance on Sunday afternoon, I can’t stop thinking about it. Although the subject is heavy, I found myself enjoying every moment and even having a few good laughs. I totally fell in love with Ed, when he came forward at the end for the Q&A I felt like I just saw Brad Pitt. I am a straight, 40 year old wife/mom who grew up in Southern California and remember when the epidemic hit, but did not know the magnitude. I saw this film with two gay couples, one in their 40′s and one in their 20′s, it was amazing to experience it with two who remember this and two who were not even born. Thanks so much!
Stephen OConnell Every time I see an image of the AIDS Quilt spread out on the National Mall in 1987, I hold back tears thinking of how I came over a small rise and looked down and saw it, awestruck. And I know that every time I think of being in the Castro Theater with so many wonderful friends and community, crying together with the raw beauty and emotions of “We Where Here”, I’ll hold back my tears again. But this time in joy, not horror and shock. This was the ultimate memorial service. David, you’ve done something not just brilliant, but miraculous.
John Trudell This film will touch men and women all across the county. The stories may have all taken place in San Francisco, but they also speak to, for and about those of us who were in small towns across America at the time. It’s our story too.
Dana Hopkins hardly know what to say but THANK YOU. At last there is something I really can reference others to, who ask about that time. Truly moving/evocative/painful & uplifting. Thank you for telling all of our stories with such grace
Mark Mardon Few other memoirs of the AIDS era have struck me as powerfully as this film, so effectively capturing the nuances of a multidimensional tragedy. It is of course also the story of triumph in the face of adversity, and you captured that as well.
Keiira Chinn I am so happy to have seen that movie! I am still shivering from the whole experience. Through out the movie, I felt like I was there! I am just not ready to forget about it. I think it will be stuck forever in my mind. I just truly wish I could have been there and saved all those beautiful people! Great, great job on the movie!
Tom Kitzmann Thank you for creating such an eloquent and profoundly moving film. I am still at a loss for words after seeing it Sunday afternoon. Like many who have posted comments here, it was a privilege to see it at the Castro Theater and be able to grieve communally; I felt so much comfort being there with the people in that auditorium. I also want to thank the participants in the film not only for generously sharing their experiences, but also for all that they did as individuals to fight the epidemic and care for those were suffering and dying.
Betty Levitin Thank you for your courage to go back to so much pain, confusion, love, fear, courage, and tears. It was a privilege to be at the Castro today. You have made a wonderful film with such a strong voice. And you tell the story with a heart and love that I could not have imagined.
Rose Tully The only way the story could have been told is the way it has been done in this film. I’ve never been given such a complete history of HIV/AIDS. This film connected me to my personal history with the people in my life who lived it. I am profoundly affected by these times just before I was born, as we all are. What a tremendous thing to take part in this experience at the Castro Theatre today. I will share this film with my people back home. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Edward Guthmann Wonderful! I can’t imagine how this film could’ve been better and I can’t imagine a better time for it to arrive. The decision to focus on five storytellers instead of one or two dozen was brilliant. David and Bill, you will be remembered and you will be thanked for this achievement for a very long time. Mazeltov!
James E. Van Buskirk Congratulations on an extraordinary — and extraordinarily healing — achievement. It felt like the Castro Theatre this afternoon was filled with the energy of all of us remembering, those learning about, as well as all those whose lives and deaths you have honored. I am still reeling…
Mike Black David and Bill, what is perhaps most impressive about the structure of the film is how completely you are able to convey the flow of those years through five very personal narratives. There are of course countless other personal stories to be told about the AIDS pandemic, but your choices have made for an extraordinarily moving experience that will not be possible to forget. Certainly not by those of us who were here. Thank you.
Gambill Caldwell This movie is THE most powerful and moving thing I have ever seen. I have never, in my life, cried so hard and openly in public. I could not help it. I was there for the entire time. My dear, sweet buddy was the 10th diagnosed case of AIDS in San Francisco. A lot of time has passed, but, David and Bill, I love you… SO MUCH for making this film. It is almost beyond words.
Jack Patrick McGowan Bill & David: I can’t say that I’ve ever been so moved by a documentary. My emotions were also audience induced. I had a group of gay men in their early twenties sitting in front of me who could not control their sobbing – as could not the 60s something men on either side of me. But – amongst all of this – the humor… and burst of laughter provoked by some of the (very well chosen) interviewee’s comments was outstanding. I wish you great success with this film – you’re certainly on your way and thank you both.
Please join the conversation at Facebook, we’d love to hear your thoughts and feelings about We Were Here, and the issues it raises.