A documentary portrait of San Francisco's first openly gay politician, city supervisor Harvey Milk, The Times of Harvey Milk might not have been made but for the tragic circumstances of Milk's death. On November 27, 1978, Dan White, a former city supervisor who was desperate to regain his post, entered City Hall with a gun and murdered both San Francisco's mayor, George Moscone, and Milk. At the trial, White's lawyer skillfully turned the jury's attention away from his client's public anti-gay statements to focus on White's spotless record and his extremely agitated mental state on the day of the murders. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a relatively brief jail term, sparking a demonstration and riot by gay supporters of the murdered men. The film considers Milk's accomplishments and his exceptional popularity; this is not an objective look at a man, but a celebration of a martyr. Winner of an Academy award for Best documentary Feature, The Times of Harvey Milk was released while White was serving his sentence; he was paroled in 1984 and committed suicide the next year. Epstein's other major efforts included the documentaries Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989) (about the AIDS epidemic) and The Celluloid Closet (1995), about images of gay men and women in Hollywood films.
by Tom Wiener synopsis