The Times of Harvey Milk

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The Times of Harvey Milk
The Times of Harvey Milk film poster
Film poster
Directed byRob Epstein
Written byRob Epstein
Carter Wilson
Judith Coburn
Produced byRichard Schmiechen
Rob Epstein[1]
Narrated byHarvey Fierstein
CinematographyFrances Reid
Edited byRob Epstein
Deborah Hoffmann
Music byMark Isham
Distributed byTC Films International
Release date
  • October 26, 1984 (1984-10-26)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$29,802

The Times of Harvey Milk is a 1984 American documentary film that premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, the New York Film Festival,[2] and then on November 1, 1984, at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. The film was directed by Rob Epstein, produced by Richard Schmiechen,[3] and narrated by Harvey Fierstein, with an original score by Mark Isham.

In 2012, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.[4]


The Times of Harvey Milk documents the political career of Harvey Milk, who was San Francisco's first openly gay supervisor. The film documents Milk's rise from a neighborhood activist to a symbol of gay political achievement, through to his assassination in November 1978 at San Francisco's city hall, and the Dan White trial and aftermath.


Interview subjects
  • Anne Kronenberg (city hall aide to Harvey Milk)
  • Tory Hartmann (political consultant)
  • Tom Ammiano (schoolteacher)
  • Jim Elliot (auto machinist)
  • Henry Der (executive director, Chinese for Affirmative Action)
  • Jeannine Yeomans (TV reporter)
  • Bill Kraus (gay activist)
  • Sally M. Gearhart (speech professor)
Archive footage

Featured people[edit]

The film was produced after Milk's death using original interviews, exclusive documentary footage, news reports, and archival footage, so that Milk is credited as the lead (posthumously). Other politicians including San Francisco mayor George Moscone (who was assassinated with Milk), and Moscone's successor and now United States Senator Dianne Feinstein appear in archival footage. The film opens with a tearful Feinstein delivering her announcement to the media that Moscone and Milk had been assassinated by Dan White.

Also featured in the film is schoolteacher Tom Ammiano, who would go on to be a member of the California State Assembly.


The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1985,[5] and was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the first Sundance Film Festival, among other awards.

Home media[edit]

A digitally restored version of the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by The Criterion Collection in March 2011. The release includes an audio commentary featuring director Rob Epstein, co-editor Deborah Hoffmann, and photographer Daniel Nicoletta; a few interview clips and news clips not used in the film; a new interview with documentary filmmaker Jon Else; a new program about The Times of Harvey Milk and Gus Van Sant’s 2008 film Milk, featuring Epstein, Van Sant, actor James Franco, and Milk's friends Cleve Jones, Anne Kronenberg, and Nicoletta; a rare collection of audio and video recordings of Milk; excerpts from Epstein's preproduction research tapes of interviews he conducted with a number of people who were ultimately not interviewed for the final film, including Milk's partner Scott Smith; footage from the film's Castro Theatre premiere and the 1984 Academy Awards; a panel discussion from 2003 with Dan White's attorneys; and excerpts from the 25th anniversary commemoration of Milk's and Mayor George Moscone's assassinations.


  1. ^ "The Times of Harvey Milk" winning Best Documentary Feature-Oscars on YouTube
  2. ^ "Project History page at". 1978-05-21. Archived from the original on 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  3. ^ "The Criterion Channel". Archived from the original on 2021-06-18. Retrieved 2021-06-13.
  4. ^ "National Film Registry selects 25 films for preservation " Los Angeles Times (December 19, 2012)
  5. ^ 1985|

External links[edit]