The Hollywood Reporter reviews 5B, our Entertainment Lions Grand Prix award-winning documentary!
Co-directors Dan Krauss and Paul Haggis pay warm tribute to the nurses and volunteers who set up America’s first AIDS unit at San Francisco General Hospital during the crisis years.
The ravages of the AIDS crisis, the stigmatization of its victims and the shameful prolonged indifference of the Ronald Reagan government have been widely chronicled in both narrative and nonfiction features. But the heroism of the nurses and volunteer caregivers manning the frontlines is a largely overlooked aspect that’s worth remembering. Co-directors Dan Krauss and Paul Haggis set out to do just that in 5B, a stirring assembly of first-person oral history and extensive archival footage that honors the pioneering work carried out in that ward, which opened in 1983 at San Francisco General Hospital in direct response to a state of emergency still being widely ignored at that time.
This is a straightforward, no-frills project built in conventional style around a series of talking-head interviews. Despite a nagging tendency to milk sentiment from wrenching subject matter that requires no manipulation, the doc is notable for its admirably inclusive perspective. It covers both the selfless contributions of people fighting the good fight — gay and straight, men and women, medics and nonprofessionals — as well as the conservative forces who tried to discredit the efforts of 5B staffers to bring dignity and compassion to what at that time was a death sentence. The film will be released theatrically through Verizon distribution arm RYOT in June.
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