This is an immensely powerful, compassionate and inspiring documentary centred around five people’s recollections of the AIDS epidemic that emerged in San Francisco in the early 1980s. With well-placed photographs and news clips, we get a well-rounded, unselfconscious and frank account of caring, solidarity, political campaigning and victories, medical trials, a transformation in American social attitudes, and, although 16,000 people died, successful treatment and survival.
There are many harrowing moments. Photographs of Kaposi’s sarcoma appear in a chemist’s window before anyone knows what it is. A nurse talks about removing eyes for research into viral-caused blindness. But she also talks about the immense contribution from lesbian women in a society without universal healthcare.
It took solidarity, courage and political campaigning to turn things around. Very, very movingly, a florist, an ex-professional dancer, describes a man declining and ageing physically, and, expecting soon to hear the worst, later sees him appear walking without a stick and then riding a bike.
This is a marvellous doc that can change attitudes and ought to be shown in schools. Unmissable.