How to Survive a Plague

(2012, 120 mins, DCP)
Classification:

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, How to Survive a Plague is among the most universally acclaimed films of the year. Faced with their own mortality an improbable group of young people, many of them HIV-positive young men, broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment.

How to Survive a Plague is the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and ’90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.

"One of the ten best movies of 2012… If its essence could be bottled, David France’s fierce, heartbreaking documentary about the very early days of AIDS activism could serve as a tonic for demoralized political organizers, a bracing reminder that change is possible when a group of committed people come together to fight injustice, indifference, and prejudice…don’t miss this cathartic, inspiring film." - Dana Stevens, Slate

"The currents of rage, fear, fiery determination and finally triumph that crackle through David France’s inspiring documentary, “How to Survive a Plague,” lend this history of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power a scorching electrical charge." - Stephen Holden, New York Times