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How to Survive a Plague (2012)

7.5
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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.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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 (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

death | act up | treatment | aids | interview | See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

8 November 2013 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

How to Survive a Plague  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

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Did You Know?

Quotes

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.
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Connections

Featured in The Oscars (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

I'll Be Glad When You're Dead You Rascal You
{erformed by Louis Prima
Written by Spo-De-Odee (as Sam Theard)
Used by Permission of EMI Mills Music, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
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User Reviews

 
Not a Zombie Movie!
10 January 2013 | by See all my reviews

By using (mostly) never before seen archival footage, David France's unflinching documentary "How to Survive a Plague" DOCUMENTS the early epidemic of the AIDS virus in the United States, during a time when it was seen as a death sentence.

With a mixture of video from protests, support rallies and home movies, France portrays actual struggling AIDS victims/activists as their friends and family members begin to go blind and die around them, and the US government does little in way of assistance. France also does a great job of not only showcasing the overwhelming amount of discrimination during the 80's and 90's, which altogether ostracized anybody with AIDS or people that had any linkage to the gay communities, but succeeds in his attempts to dissect the human condition, by showing how far a determined group of people are willing to go for change.

The rest of the footage, which shows government officials such as former Senator Jesse Helms, former President Ronald Regan and former President George Bush Sr. is maybe the most shocking aspect of this film; as they come off as negligent and at times so blatantly prejudiced, that it's disturbing to think how everything depicted here took place only between 20 and 30 years ago.

Beginning in New York with the denial of the AIDS epidemic by former New York Mayor Ed Kotch, to the introduction of the highly toxic drug AZT (the most expensive drug on the market at the time, and the only one used to prolong the life of AIDS patients) to the Roman Catholic Church condemning the use of condoms, and ending with the evolution of ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) a group of activists (most of whom had the AIDS virus themselves) who revolutionized the way AIDS was treated, turning it into a manageable condition; the importance of this film lies in its documentation of a disenfranchised people during a time in American history that isn't broached in the classroom. But equally as interesting as the subject matter, is how creatively this documentary is put together. This archival footage format is truly an ingenious way to tell a narrative, really working on an almost purely visceral level to capture the times and atmosphere of a real life American revolution, in a way not many documentaries have the ability to do.

Final Thought: "How to Survive A Plague" is not only an informative, fascinating, and sure to be award winning film, but also one of the most powerful documentaries of 2012. There's not much more I can say about this documentary, other than that actually sitting down and witnessing what this film has to say, for yourself will undoubtedly create a deeper impact and elicit more of an emotional response than any mere words can say.

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus


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