New AIDS film records “dedication of those who fought epidemic”

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A new film by director David Weissman released this month explores the history of the AIDS epidemic in 1980s San Francisco.

After being premièred at the Sundance film festival, the documentary is released in the UK this month and claims to be the first film to fully document the effect of AIDS on the city.

Its first UK screening will be at a charity gala hosted by director David Weissman, and Paul Ward, Deputy Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust and Attitude Magazine.

Sir Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of THT, said: “This film captures the emotion, fear, and courage that marked the earliest years of the AIDS epidemic, which was also seen in towns and cities around the UK.

“We Were Here tells our story too.

“THT was created 30 years ago as part of an extraordinary response from the gay community, and we must never forget the dedication of the men and women who fought the epidemic at that time, and who continue to fight it today.”

Attitude Editor, Matthew Todd, who was named journalist of the year at this year’s Stonewall Awards, adds: “We Were Here shows the carnage that HIV & AIDS wielded upon gay people in San Francisco in the early days of the epidemic and the community spirit that came as a response. HIV infection rates in gay men in the UK are still scandalously high.

“I feel we must reach a turning point in our reaction to the disproportionate way HIV still affects us and we should be taking inspiration from the way those people responded. This is a film that as many people as possible need to see.”

Stephen Holden of the New York Times said: “Of all the cinematic explorations of the AIDS crisis, not one is more heartbreaking and inspiring than We Were Here… the humility, wisdom, and cumulative sorrow expressed lend the film a glow of spirituality and infuse it with grace.”

Film Comment said the people featured “are the equivalent of World War II resistance fighters, and the film gives their commitment and courage the celebration it deserves […] Simply the most compelling history of the major tragedy and epic struggle of our time.”

Peccadillo Pictures will be hosting a charity Gala screening tomorrow, 15 November, at the Odeon Covent Garden, London.

Funds raised by the event will be donated to HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust.