How to Survive a Plague (2012)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary, History, News  |  8 November 2013 (UK)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,735 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 18 user | 75 critic | 23 from

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.



, (as T. Woody Richman) , 1 more credit »
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $3.99 on Amazon Video

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

We Were Here I (2011)
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A deep and reflective look at the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco and how individuals rose to the occasion during the first years of this unimaginable crisis.

Directors: David Weissman, Bill Weber
Stars: Ed Wolf, Daniel Goldstein, Guy Clark
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An investigative documentary about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military.

Director: Kirby Dick
Stars: Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, Kori Cioca
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets.

Director: Dror Moreh
Stars: Ami Ayalon, Avraham Shalom, Avi Dichter
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A documentary on a Palestinian farmer's chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.

Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
Stars: Emad Burnat, Soraya Burnat, Mohammed Burnat
After Tiller (2013)
Documentary | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

After the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in 2009, there are a limited number of doctors left in the country who provide third-trimester abortions for women. AFTER TILLER moves... See full summary »

Directors: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson
Stars: George Tiller, Warren Hern, Leroy Carhart
Outrage I (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An indictment of closeted politicians who lobby for anti-gay legislation in the U.S.

Director: Kirby Dick
Stars: Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Wayne Barrett
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role as her overbearing husband's assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.

Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Stars: Ushio Shinohara, Noriko Shinohara, Alex Shinohara
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.

Director: Morgan Neville
Stars: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer
The Square (2013)
Documentary | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A group of Egyptian revolutionaries battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a new society of conscience.

Director: Jehane Noujaim
Stars: Ahmed Hassan, Khalid Abdalla, Magdy Ashour
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

From the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge, a penetrating look inside America's criminal justice system, revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.

Director: Eugene Jarecki
Stars: Eugene Jarecki, Nannie Jeter, Betty Chism
Documentary | Action | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

What does it mean to lead men in war? What does it mean to come home? Hell and Back Again is a cinematically revolutionary film that asks and answers these questions with a power and ... See full summary »

Director: Danfung Dennis
Stars: Nathan Harris, Ashley Harris, The Marines of Echo Company
Gideon's Army (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.

Director: Dawn Porter


Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself (archive footage)
David Barr ...
Bob Rafsky ...
Himself (archive footage)
Jim Eigo ...
Ann Northrop ...
Gregg Bordowitz ...
Bill Bahlman ...
Spencer Cox ...
Barbara Starrett ...
Iris Long ...
Herself (archive footage)
Franke-Ruta Garance ...
Herself (as Garance Franke-Ruta)
Mark Harrington ...
Jesse Helms ...
Himself (archive footage)


In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease was considered a death sentence affecting communities, like the LGBT ones, whom many in power felt deserved it. This film tells the story of how militant activists like ACT-UP and TAG pushed for a meaningful response to this serious public health problem. As the activists struggled against political indifference, religious hostility, corporate greed and apparently skewed scientific research priorities with determination and sheer audacity, they produced a political wave that would lead to not only an effective treatment regime, but would advance LGBT rights beyond anyone's expectations. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

8 November 2013 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

AIDS-pioneerit  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$28,250 (USA) (21 September 2012)


$122,665 (USA) (9 November 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


Larry Kramer: Every single drug that's out there is because of ACT UP, I am convinced. It is the proudest achievement that the gay population of this world can ever claim.
See more »


Featured in The Oscars (2013) See more »


Keeping Up
Performed & Arranged by 'Superhuman Happiness'
Written by Arthur Russell (as Charles Arthur Russell Jr.) ((ASCAP)
Used by Permission of Echo & Feedback Newsletter Music (ASCAP)
Administered by Bug
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A moving and insightful documentary
16 November 2012 | by (Warsaw) – See all my reviews

How to Survive a Plague is definitely one of the year's most awe-inspiring, riveting, go-into- action documentaries. Through a mightily informative combination of recent interviews and archival footage the film exhibits a noteworthy fight against both ignorance and indifference towards such a deadly epidemic as the one caused by the HIV virus. This is also a serious, heartfelt, touching depiction of a movement that was ready to change something, even if it meant sacrificing a few soldiers along the way. And yes, the word 'soldiers' is perfectly suitable when it comes to all those young people who devoted their whole lives to a global, far-reaching cause.

Year by year, How to Survive a Plague presents a through and insightful look at the actions that propelled the LGBT activists in some of their most tragic days. Undeniably, the story behind such coalitions as Act Up and TAG are exhilarating ones. Even though the then-deadly virus already infected many of those young people, they still didn't lose faith in the cause and decided to stand up against the government and its reluctance to help those in need. Lead by a few charismatic and devoted individuals Act Up changed to course of history and it's definitely not an exaggeration. By making the whole world aware of the seriousness of this ferocious AIDS plague the activists made the world a place friendly for all inhabitants of this planet, no matter their sexual orientation or skin color.

How to Survive a Plague is a clever, intriguing and fortifying documentary. Every scene of the film matters, every voice raised is a significant one. Decidedly so, the interviews shine a new light on the past events presented in the archival footage, and their coming together combines for a valuable film experience.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Thought it was going to be a zombie movie HarlequinForestt
US Release Date tgene2
We Need This Now! marleneartsandcrafts
Discuss How to Survive a Plague (2012) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page