Review: 5B Shows How We Can All Make A Difference

FIRST IMPRESSION

Inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time, 5B offers an honest, unique, and personal look at the AIDS crisis from the eyes of those who sought to help patients.
Directing
Entertainment Value
Technical Merit

The new documentary 5B, directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Dan Krauss (The Kill Team) and Oscar-winner Paul Haggis (Crash), is the film we all need in today’s political landscape, even if we don’t know it yet. In an era when more and more people are feeling empowered to take action, it is important to learn from a group of people who did it the right way.

In the film, Krauss and Haggis take a look at the story of San Francisco General Hospital’s 5B ward, which was the first AIDS treatment ward in the world during the 1980’s AIDS crisis. It is truly inspirational to see this group of people standing up for what they believe in despite the opposition they face around them every day.

During the time in which the nurses and caregivers of the San Francisco General Hospital started the 5B ward, not much was known about HIV/AIDS. Paranoia and fear were still very much present in society, and these heroes combatted that with their courage. Now people may look back at the things that these people did and assume that they are just treating their patients with humanity, but it is important to understand that they are the people who set the precedent.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about this documentary is that it manages to not feel cheap in any way. When dealing with a topic as tricky as the AIDS crisis, filmmakers can easily be melodramatic or feel like they are doing nothing more than tear-jerking. Krauss and Haggis instead approach the subject with a sense of earnestness and empathy, making audiences understand the weight of the topic without feeling overwhelming.

Over the course of the film, we get to hear multiple personal stories from the people involved with the ward. Unfortunately, it is impossible to hear from most of the patients directly because the ward started at a time before medicine had advanced enough to manage the HIV virus, but we do get to hear their stories secondhand from some of the nurses that treated them. In this way, the movie feels like a touching tribute to those who lost their lives in this crisis.

5b rita
Ward 5B caregiver Rita Rockett visits with a patient. Credit: Ken Kobré.

The most impactful story in the film is that of “Jane Doe”, the nurse who was infected with the HIV virus because of accidental exposure to a patient’s blood. The reason that her story is the most touching is not that she is “innocent”, as some people at the time would suggest, but because of the sacrifices she made for the greater good. However, this does not steal the spotlight from any of the other patients’ stories discussed in the movie, as they are all heartbreaking.

Also very impressive was the filmmakers’ ability to get across their political commentary without feeling preachy or heavy-handed. On one hand, Krauss and Haggis did make this film to pay respect to the people who lost their lives to AIDS and the people who worked to make them more comfortable in their final days. There is also an underlying message, though, about discrimination that occurred at the time and is still happening now (albeit to a somewhat lesser extent). As a result, these caregivers are portrayed as more than just people who are doing something good — they are also advocates for justice and equality.

Krauss and Haggis tell this story through a combination of archive footage and interviews with the people involved in the story. Thankfully, the filmmakers made the decision to make themselves as invisible as possible, allowing the stories to speak for themselves. This gives the movie a more natural rhythm, as if we are watching these people tell their stories to us directly rather than to a person behind a camera.

5B is a very impressive documentary on many levels. This heartbreaking story, while well-documented, has never been told in a way quite like this. From this film we can learn that, even though the situation might look bad, there is still good in the world.

5B is now playing in theaters.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

The BEST TikTok Compilation of The Boys Season 1

Lazer beam baby...enough said. » Watch The Boys now exclusively with your Prime membership: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoTheBoys » SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoSubscribe About The Boys: The Boys is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes, who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as Gods, abuse their superpowers rather than use them for…

Gregory Begs to Return to Hilltop | The Walking Dead Classic Scene

After selling out his own people, Gregory begs to return to the safety of Hilltop. Watch from The Walking Dead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFW4F9BGYQg&list=PLC7EC9FB2E211A261&index=6&t= Subscribe to The Walking Dead on YouTube: https://goo.gl/Tu5rSx #TWD #TheWalkingDead #Hilltop THE WALKING DEAD: Like The Walking Dead on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkingDeadAMC/ Follow The Walking Dead on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WalkingDead_AMC Visit The Walking Dead Official Site:…

‘The Prince’ Ep. 4 Preview | Power Book II: Ghost | STARZ

After Monet’s agreed to do business with him, Tariq initiates his play to control the drug market on campus, while insulating his and Monet’s involvement. Don’t miss an all-new episode of #PowerGhost this Sunday on #STARZ. #PowerGhost #PowerBook2 #PowerNeverEnds #STARZ Subscribe to the STARZ YouTube Channel for more Power: http://bit.ly/1kalhP0 Get your special offer of…

American Horror Story | The Many Faces of Sarah Paulson | FX

Fear the many faces of Sarah. Watch every chapter of American Horror Story with FX on Hulu to see the legendary Sarah Paulson in action. Subscribe now for more American Horror Story clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX In the summer of 1984, five friends escape Los Angeles to work as counselors at Camp Redwood. As they adjust to…

Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: The Fight Before the Fight (Clip) | HBO

Real Sports goes behind the scenes for a rare look at how MMA fighters cut dangerous, life-threatening amounts of weight before a bout to gain a competitive advantage. #RealSports is all-new on Tuesday, September 22 at 10PM. #HBO Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 Real Sports is television’s most-honored sports journalism program, and received last…

Fargo | Installment 4: Twice Teaser | FX

Sundays aren’t for rest. Fargo is back with an all-new story September 27th on FX. Next day FX on Hulu. Subscribe now for more Fargo clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX The fourth installment of Fargo is set in 1950 Kansas City, where two crime syndicates fighting for a piece of the American dream have struck an uneasy peace.…

That Animal Rescue Show | Official Trailer | CBS All Access

Executive produced by five-time Academy Award nominated filmmaker Richard Linklater and two-time Academy Award winner Bill Guttentag, THAT ANIMAL RESCUE SHOW follows the animal rescue community in and around Austin, Texas, where Linklater lives. The 10-episode docuseries provides a window into this captivating world through moving, humorous and powerful stories of animals, the humans who…

Emotional Moments in World’s Toughest Race | Prime Video

Pushed to exhaustion, and the limits of their strength, these competitors not only have to battle the course but their own minds. » Watch World's Toughest Race now exclusively with your Prime membership: http://bit.ly/AmazonWTR » SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoSubscribe About World's Toughest Race: From the creator of Survivor, 66 teams descend upon Fiji to compete in the…
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here