I was so glad when Criterion chose to release this film (and not just because I had already seen it and could immediately cross it off my list). THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK is a beautiful documentary that drew attention to California’s first openly gay elected official long before Gus Van Sant’s biopic. Through archival footage and interviews, the director, Rob Epstein, looks at Milk’s life and career, up through his tragic assassination and the turmoil that followed. But the documentary is about more than a single civil rights activist and the impact he made on those around him. It’s also a time capsule of San Francisco’s Castro District in the 70s, and a piece of LGBT history. If that history seems accessible and well-known today, it’s partially thanks to documentaries like this one, just as Harvey Milk can be thanked for paving the way for out politicians.