How to Survive a Plague

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About How to Survive a Plague

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of the brave young men and women who successfully reversed the tide of an epidemic, demanded the attention of a fearful nation and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence. This improbable group of activists bucked oppression and, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments and move them through trials and into drugstores in record time. In the process, they saved their own lives and ended the darkest days of a veritable plague, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals in the process. The powerful story of their fight is a classic tale of empowerment and activism that has since inspired movements for change in everything from breast cancer research to Occupy Wall Street. Their story stands as a powerful inspiration to future generations, a road map, and a call to arms. This is how you change the world.


Mark Warren, Esquire
"Like the very best documentaries about political movements, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE makes you feel humble, and at the same time, extraordinarily proud."
Stuart Klawans, The Nation
"A MASTERPIECE. Incredible. I was spiritually overcome by it. A really, really beautiful piece of work."
Chris Hayes, Up With Chris Hayes
Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
David Edelstein, New York Magazine
"EXTRAORDINARY, REMARKABLE… one of the most important documentaries in years or decades."
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
"RIVETING...MOVING AND ESSENTIAL. Brings home the genuine heroics of many of the activists."
Bruce Diones, The New Yorker
"*****!”(highest rating) DEVASTATING."
Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
"AN IMMENSELY POWERFUL DOCUMENTARY. Benefits both from the passion of its subjects and the plethora of archival footage utilized."
Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
"(Powerful)… Moving and meticulous."
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
"Expertly compiled from hundreds of hours of archival footage—depicting fractious meetings, infamous demonstrations like 1989's die-in at St. Patrick's Cathedral, and hospital visits with the gravely ill—France's documentary searingly captures the fury and unflagging commitment of ACT UP to target those in power who did nothing to stop the disease. Present-day interviews with members who in 1987 doubted they'd live to see their 30th birthday deepen the film's impact as an essential document of queer history."
Melissa Anderson, Village Voice
"MAGNIFICENT. An electrifying, heart-wrenching tale."
Chuck Wilson, LA Weekly
"Exceptional. The film succeeds not just as a vivid chronicle of recent history but as a primer in grassroots activism. Much of that footage was shot by frontline participants, and it lends the doc an in-the-crucible immediacy."
Sheri Linden, LA Times
"****! Astonishing. It’s hard to overstate how ingenious France’s formal choices are. The material has been shaped in an artful manner that devastates, rouses, and shames. When France cuts to some of the TAG men in the sparingly used studio interviews, you realize you’re not simply looking at activists, you’re beholding war heroes."
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
"*****!”(Highest Rating) A testament to extraordinary human bravery. It stands as one of the most heartbreaking and suspenseful sagas of the year."
Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle
"A beautiful documentary. More than any other nonfiction work I've seen, with far-reaching intelligence and grace, David France's "How to Survive a Plague" relays what happened in the early years of AIDS. How can a film on this topic be so inspiring? Because it's about grass-roots politics in effective action. Vote how you like, but the subjects of this film could not and cannot be dismissed."
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"The first documentary that I have seen that does justice to this story of a civil rights movement rising from the ashes of our dead.” If you want to understand the gay civil rights movement in the last twenty years, you need to see this film."
Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast
"Remarkable... An epic celebration of heroism and tenacity, and less directly, a useful template for any fledgling activist movement, demonstrating the effectiveness of inside/outside strategy. The film was clearly a monumental research project, culling material from 700 hours of video. France’s reporting skills are impeccable. But in his first documentary, he also shows a firm grasp of narrative, giving this decade-long chronicle a driving, fluid through-line. Words like ‘important’ and ‘inspiring’ tend too often to be meaninglessly attached to non-fiction filmmaking, but in the case of David France’s compelling snapshot of a revolutionary period in AIDS treatment, they are amply justified… Packed with fascinating interviews and stirring footage from the trenches, the film deftly shapes its information stream into a powerful drama… France’s film is a sequel of sorts to seminal AIDS works like Larry Kramer’s ‘The Normal Heart’ and Randy Shilts’ ‘And the Band Played On."
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
"Gripping, Thrilling. A stunning document of a period."
Marshall Fine, Huffington Post


Official Selection
Sundance Film Festival 2012
Official Selection
True/False Film Festival 2012
Winner - Best Documentary
Gotham Awards 2012
Independent Film Festival of Boston
WINNER - Best Documentary
Gotham Award
Nominee - Best Documentary
Independent Spirit Award
Winner - Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Filmmaker Award
IDA Awards
Nominee - Best Debut Feature, Best Editing, Audience Choice Awards
Cinema Eye Awards
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How to Survive a Plague
US | 2012 | U
Sep 21, 2012

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