Once in a while, a movie makes you want to be a better person. 5B, which tells the story of the first dedicated AIDS ward in the United States, is one of them. Paul Haggis and Dan Krauss’s documentary pulls audiences into the early years of the epidemic, when HIV-AIDS (initially referred to as “gay cancer”) was a deadly mystery that terrified medical professionals and the gay community alike. In the early ‘80s, doctors would wear hazmat suits and gloves to treat AIDS patients, orderlies would refuse to deliver their food and hospitals would quarantine them far from other patients. This dehumanizing treatment infuriated San Francisco General nurse Cliff Morrison, who recruited a group of likeminded nurses from around the country to build Ward 5B. With the hospital’s blessing and in the face of backlash, 5B nurses cared for their AIDS patients (double stigmatized because of their homosexuality) as human beings, touching them with bare hands, opening family visitation rights to their partners and making sure they did not die alone.
The incredible courage and compassion of these nurses, told in 5B through their own words, is just as inspiring today as it was in 1983. Among those who were moved by the film: Oscar winner Julianne Moore, who saw AIDS decimate her own community when she was a young actress in 1980s New York City. Moore, who has been supporting the film at the festival circuit and media events (5B is presented by RYOT, a Verizon Media company), teamed up with Morrison to speak with Yahoo Entertainment about activism, fighting for human rights and where to find hope for the future.
Yahoo Entertainment: Julianne, you’ve been very outspoken always, but particularly in the Trump era, about gun violence, about sexual assault, about the injustices faced by women. You’re the only person I’ve ever heard say that actresses are hungry all the time.
Julianne Moore: Ha! That was a long time ago. It was a very kind of flip comment, you know?
But I love that you are not afraid to speak truth to power. Why do you think other people who are in the public eye are afraid to speak out about these issues?
Moore: I don’t know. I can’t speak for anybody else. It’s funny, because a young actor recently asked me about the role of actors and activism, and whether there’s some sort of interplay. And I said no, obviously no. Being an actor is one thing and being an activist, I really think, is about being a citizen. I think we have to take responsibility for our community. And what’s great about living in the United States is that we can. We have freedom of speech here. We can say, this is not right, this is what I believe. That’s what I try to say to my children: This is a personal responsibility.
Read the whole article/interview in our press library.