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.
Sundance Film Festival, 2012
New Directors/New Films, 2012
San Francisco International Film Festival, 2012
“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… 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.” —David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
”I sat down to watch How to Survive a Plague, a new documentary about the history of the AIDS epidemic, expecting to cry, and cry I did… I expected to be angry. Here, too, I wasn't disappointed. What I didn't expect was how much hope I would feel. How much comfort. While the movie vividly chronicles the wages of bigotry and neglect, it even more vividly chronicles how much society can budge when the people exhorting it to are united and determined and smart and right. The fight in us ecplises the sloth and surrender, and the good really does outweigh the bad. That's a takeaway of How to Survive a Plague, and that's a takeaway of the AIDS crisis as well.” —Frank Bruni, The New York Times