“Philadelphia” Turns 25: Screenwriter Says Young LGBTQs Must “Learn Their History”

The movie will be returning to theaters in select cities on December 1 in honor of World AIDS Day.

December marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day and the 25th anniversary of Philadelphia, one of the first studio films to shed light on the epidemic.

Directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Ron Nyswaner, the film starred Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett, a bright young lawyer with HIV fired because of his condition. Small-time lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) represents Beckett as the only willing advocate for his alleged wrongful termination.

Hanks won the Oscar for Best Actor at the 66th Academy Awards for his role, while the song “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Nyswaner was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

“I still hear from people who watched the film over the last two decades who tell me it changed their lives,” Nyswaner tells NewNowNext. “The movie came out at time of intense homophobia and when being diagnosed with HIV was fatal. While we’ve made significant strides in progress on both of those fronts, it’s nice to see the film still resonates with people who are understanding their identity and our history.”

Although the climate for LGBTQ people has improved, the filmmaker says activists should not grow complacent.

“It’s very important young LGBTQ people learn their history,” he says. “There was a time when The New York Times wouldn’t even use the word ’gay.’ Brave people risked, and some lost, everything fighting for justice and the freedoms a lot of us enjoy today, but there is so much work to be done around the world where people are suffering like we did 40 years ago. I encourage people to look outside our culture to see how we can be of service to people in places who don’t have any rights or resources or agency at all.”

In conjunction with a new 4K UHD release, Philadelphia is returning to theaters through Sony Pictures Releasing in more than 10 markets on December 1 in honor of World AIDS Day.

TriStar Pictures

The theaters will include the new short featurette, The Last Mile, presented by (RED) and The Coca-Cola Company, which highlights progress made since the release of the film and the work remaining in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Philadelphia will play in the following theaters:

Atlanta, GA – Regal Atlantic Station
Boston, MA – AMC Boston Commons
Chicago, IL – AMC River East
Dallas, TX – AMC NorthPark, Dallas
Houston, TX – AMC Gulf Pointe, Houston
Los Angeles, CA – AMC Burbank 16
Miami, FL – Regal South Beach Miami
New York, NY – Regal Union Square
Philadelphia, PA – AMC Neshaminy
San Francisco, CA – AMC Metreon
Washington, DC – Regal Gallery Place
Toronto, Canada—Cineplex Cinemas, Yonge-Dundas

Lamar Dawson is a pop culture junkie and pop diva addict living in Manhattan. Follow him on everything @dirrtykingofpop.