Film: We Were Here

(Netflix both DVD and streaming, for rent online ($3.99) at, on reserve at Ayala Library)
This film chronicles the early years of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco.  It also talks about us caring for people in our communities, which is a theme in the

Social Science Public Policy major.
“There was nothing extraordinary about the fact that you lose the people you love because it’s going to happen to all of us,” observes Ed Wolf, a gentle, gay San

Franciscan in his mid-50s who devoted years to counseling dying AIDS patients during the peak of the epidemic. “It’s just that it happened in this targeted community

of people who were disenfranchised and separated from their families. And a whole group of other people stepped up and became their family.”
The family or community, whatever you want to call it, that coalesced around a public health emergency is the story of We Were Here, an extraordinarily moving,

beautifully edited documentary. (NY Times Review)
At the end of your documentary review, connecting the film to course content, please address these questions.

1.  What are your reactions to this film?

2.  How did homophobia (the fear of gay and lesbian people) impact the initial responses to the HIV epidemic? How does it affect prevention efforts today?

3.  HIV has been referred to as a ‘gay disease.’ Do you think this is true? How do you believe HIV has affected the heterosexual community?

4. WWH describes the way HIV impacted San Francisco, an urban American city, during the 1980s and 90s. How do you think the epidemic has impacted those living in rural

communities, or in low income urban areas? What about in other countries like Africa, India and South America?

5.  In the film, Daniel expresses some regret for not always having the strength to
care for sick friends. What are the issues in your life that determine the choices in caring for other people?

6.  Eileen says that becoming a nurse and working in HIV provided her with a more purposeful life. Are there things you do or are involved with that provide purpose to

your life?

7.  All the interviewees in WWH were, at a young age, confronted with a huge and completely unpredictable catastrophe. Have you ever been faced with an unexpected

crisis? How did you respond? How might you have responded to situations like those depicted in the film?

8. Research the Shanti Project in Orange County. What do you find?  What internships do they offer?  What volunteer opportunities do they offer?


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