5B – A Review by Cynthia Flores


5B – A Review by Cynthia Flores

It’s not often you get such a well-known writer and director of such critically acclaimed award-winning films like Crash to direct a documentary.  So, you know it’s topic has got to have a certain level of interesting or unknown story to entice a man of his qualifications.  Well, the documentary 5B has both.  It’s an inspirational film about the staff and patients of the San Francisco General Hospital’s infamous AIDS Ward during the early years of the epidemic.

The director has given a fitting tribute through the use of footage of the patients, and first-person testimony of the nurses, doctors, and caregivers that did the groundbreaking work of building Ward 5B in 1983.  These people created practices based on humanity and holistic well-being during a time of considerable uncertainty.  When AIDS first hit America and the world, no one knew how this “Gay Cancer” was spread.  So, at first, hospital staff would treat patients dressed head to foot in what they called “spacesuits” for fear of contracting the illness.  Orderlies would refuse to service their rooms, and the patients would be suffering as they lay dying.

5B shows how radical the nurses and doctors were who made a place for the victims of the AIDS virus and did it without the spacesuits.  As one nurse who worked in the ward says in the film, “We were encouraged to touch and love our patients.”  In the end, heads of state and hospital wards from all over the world came to learn and review the techniques that they employed.  Hayley Pappas, head of RYOT Films at Verizon Media who made this film said, “Some stories have the special ability to remind us of the best in humanity and push us to find the best in ourselves and one another — 5B is one of those stories.”

5B is an uplifting yet candid and bittersweet film about a pivotal moment in American history.  It’s also a celebration of quiet heroes that deserve this renewed recognition.  So hug a nurse, and go see this documentary that I give an A rating.


Directed by Paul Haggis, Dan Krauss

Rated PG-13

Selig Rating A

Running Time 1hr 34min


Limited Release June 14th AMC Dine in Mesquite 30 & Grapevine Mills 30

Starring: Alison Moed Paolercio, Cliff Morrison, David Denmark, Hank Plante


The Selig Rating Scale:

A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

B – Good movie

C – OK movie

D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.