HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JANUARY 16, 2013

Undoubtedly, one of the best activism documentaries I have ever seen, “How to Survive a Plague,” engages while still educating. It is built from archival footage and news programs from the ’80s AIDS outbreak through the battle to save those infected amidst a hostile, homophobic government and media, concluding with the effective treatments discovered in the mid-90s.

What sets this apart from previous documentaries about large groups of people standing up to the government are the characters. They leave themselves wide open for the world to see and, in doing so, become fully realized and deep, emotional people, with the basic need for survival driving their motivations. Peter Staley, one of the prominent activists for the ACT UP group, was the most enjoyable, with his deadpan reactions during news interviews and unique way with words, especially in public speeches. AIDS in the ’80s isn’t a subject that comes up very often, so to get such a deep look at the epidemic is something new, and the harrowing tales, despite their weighted stance on political issues, are some of the best in recent history.

RELEASE DATE
September 21, 2012

DIRECTOR
David France

WRITTEN BY
David France
Todd Woody Richman
Tyler H. Walk

STUDIO
Sundance Selects
IFC Films

NOT RATED

DOCUMENTARY
HISTORY
NEWS
109 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Derek Wiesehahn

COMPOSER
Stuart Bogie

EDITOR
Todd Woody Richman
Tyler H. Walk

CAST
Bill Bahlman
David Barr
Gregg Bordowitz
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Spencer Cox
Jim Eigo
Susan Ellenberg
Anthony Fauci
Mark Harrington
Jesse Helms

PRODUCED BY
Stephenie Meyer
Nick Wechsler
Steve Schwartz
Paula Mae Schwartz

BUDGET
$40 million

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