Movie Review: WE WERE HERE

The 22nd annual Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival opens this coming Thursday May 14th in the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Thirteen feature films and seventeen short films will be shown during the four days festival.

You can find out about all of the films and buy tickets at the festival's web site:

I highly recommend one of the documentaries: WE WERE HERE, a poignant, uplifting historical documentary about the two decades in San Francisco when more than 15,000 people died from AIDS.
"None of my friends are around from the beginning," says Daniel Goldstein, an artist and political activist who is still alive in spite of being HIV positive for nearly 30 years. "So I want to tell their story as much as I want to tell my story."

The beginning was 1981 when people started hearing about a deadly illness that was striking gay men. And in the beginning, people who were infected died very quickly. The epidemic was especially frightening because nobody understood what it was let alone how people got it.

Using archival footage and interviews with five compassionate people who lived through that plague, director David Weissman has made a powerful movie that shows what the 1980's and 90's were like in San Francisco.

One interview subject spent years helping people whose lives he couldn't save. "When I was in the thick of it, it was hard to imagine a future," the man says. "It was impossible to grasp that all this was really happening."

The numbers were staggering. A local paper printed the photographs of the men who died during just one year. Page after page, the photos went on.

But the gay community came together with love and compassion to care for each other like family. As Daniel Goldstein recalls, " I remember my father saying, because I was spending so much time taking care of my friends, and he was saying, 'these people aren't family,' and I said yes they are. They're my family."
It was also gay people who began doing the research that ultimately led to the drugs we have today, drugs that mean that HIV is no longer a death sentence.

WE WERE HERE isn't a downer. It's a fond remembrance of people who will never be forgotten by those who survived.
 As Goldstein puts it, "I have so many friends who died so young. That to me is the most painful part. What would the world be like now if they were alive?

WE WERE HERE shows just once at the Rainbow Festival: Sunday May 15th at 11 am in the Doris Duke Theatre.  
Perhaps the most anticipated movie at this year's festival is "Cho Dependent," filmed during a live performance of the outrageous comedienne Margaret Cho.

"Cho Dependent" closes the festival Sunday, May 15th at 8pm.