"We Were Here," David Weissman's wrenching chronicle of the early days of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco's gay community, has been acquired for distribution by Red Flag Releasing.
The documentary, which had its world premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, will receive a comprehensive multi-platform release beginning with a North American theatrical release in September 2011. In partnership between Red Flag, the filmmakers, the Film Collaborative, New Video and PBS's Independent Lens, the film will also be released OnDemand, on DVD, in digital download channels, and on television in the spring of 2012. The film will have a non-theatrical, educational outreach component through New Yorker Films.
The deals were orchestrated by the film's worldwide producer's rep, Jonathan Dana, and by TFC's Orly Ravid. "'We Were Here' richly deserves the first class treatment it will receive across all windows and platforms – a real 'Distribution 2.0' strategy in action," said Dana in announcing the release.
Added Paul Federbush, who formed Red Flag with Laura Kim and Ron Stein, "We are proud to be releasing this powerful film. It is an affirmation of the community’s great strides over the last 30 years, and honors the many friends we’ve lost along the way.”
Directed and produced by David Weissman and co-directed and edited by Bill Weber, "We Were Here" follows a handful of people who were living in San Francisco when the then-unknown disease began to take its toll 30 years ago.
"I knew I wanted to do it with simplicity and dignity and without a lot of emotional manipulation," said Weissman, who moved to San Francisco in 1976. "I knew during the epidemic … that there would come a point with this epidemic that if any of us survived, we would need … to tell stories."
The film, wrote Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle, "has the force of a great war documentary. There is no turning away from the screen. You could watch this film from the other side of the world and at some completely different period of history and yet still receive it as something personal, with a mix of fear, outrage and awe at the suffering that is so often the lot of human beings – but also with a feeling of transcendence, at how often people can stay human and even come into their deepest humanity when facing the absolute worst."
Weissman and Weber previously collaborated on the 2002 documentary "The Cockettes," about a San Francisco drag troupe from the early 1970s.