24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: David Weissman

'We Were Here' documents AIDS crisis in the 1980s

September 16, 2011 | 12:41 pm

David Weissman, Bill Weber

Former political activist Paul Boneberg recalled the extraordinary audience reaction to “We Were Here,” when it was shown in the spring at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre. David Weissman’s acclaimed documentary chroniced how the AIDS epidemic decimated the male gay population in the 1980s and early '90s.

“The Castro holds over 1,500 people,” said Boneberg, who appears in the film, which opened in Los Angeles last Friday. “It’s an old big movie palace. People began very early on to cry. Part of it was that much of the room were people who had lived through it, so they were seeing images of the horror they themselves lived through. It came right back.”

Artist Daniel Goldstein, who is also featured in the documentary, recalled how the audiences grew during its one-week engagement. “The theater was pretty full the first couple of nights,” said Goldstein, who has been HIV-positive since 1984 and lost two partners to the epidemic.

 “But the last three nights they had to open the balcony of the Castro, which they never do. It was a lot of young people Facebooking each other saying you have got to see this — this is our history.”

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