I’ve been waiting in vain all day for an updated trailer so let’s go with the original one below. The A.V. Club sets up the mini-series that launches tonight:
“Each generation has its own epic confrontations it must deal with,” narrates Cleve Jones (Guy Pearce) over the opening scenes of Dustin Lance Black’s When We Rise. When he makes this statement—one that’s as sweeping as it is non-specific, which could also describe chunks of this eight-hour television event—it’s 2006, but it could be shared at any point in his life or the viewer’s. But Jones is speaking to a twentysomething interviewer who knows enough to profile the real-life prominent AIDS and LGBT activist, but seems otherwise woefully undereducated about a struggle he’s inherited and that Jones has lived through. The older man gently chides him—and, by extension, his generation—for his ignorance, but then patiently tells the kid a story more than 40 years in the making, that nevertheless has many chapters still unwritten.
A similar dynamic occurs on the macro level of When We Rise, which patiently offers context for any and every viewer. Black’s retelling is admirable and ambitious in its intentions, even as it leaves something wanting in the execution. The writer-director’s obviously done his homework, recounting notable moments in modern LGBT history as well as the intersecting movements that help make it. Just as important, he made sure there were queer people of color in and behind the scenes. Such diligence from the writer of the Oscar-winning Milk is no surprise, but it’s also practically a necessity in the wake of Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall, which framed that watershed moment in LGBT history from the perspective of a clean-cut white gay man to the exclusion of others—namely, the trans women of color who actually lit that powder keg.