Friday, February 22, 2013

An East Village resident to root for during the Academy Awards on Sunday night

"How to Survive a Plague" is one of the five films nominated for Best Documentary Feature in the 2013 Academy Awards.

Here's the official synopsis:

"How to Survive a Plague" is 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. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.

France is a longtime resident of East Seventh Street. He has been writing about AIDS since 1982, and as a journalist, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, GQ, and New York magazine.

"How to Survive a Plague" marks his directorial debut. He's currently working on a book about the AIDS epidemic for publication later this year. In an interview published yesterday at Time magazine, he talks about what it was like to hear the news of the nomination:

It was thrilling. I guess probably everybody would say that, but for me the thrill was that we ran this massive outreach and education campaign around it. And all of this is an effort to give the film a life of its own and to establish it in the marketplace of ideas so that people will turn to it for this history. And an Oscar nomination gives it that much more standing and makes it more probable that it will reach wide audiences for a long time.

Here are some different ways to see the film, which is now on DVD.

Also, thanks to the commenter for pointing out this interview on The Brian Lehrer Show. And Claude Peck left the URL for his review in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

H/T Dave on 7th


VH McKenzie said...

I watched this a few weeks ago while prowling through the Netflix Documentary section -- it was excellent! Had no idea he was a local -- yay! Wishing you luck!

Claude Peck said...

A very good movie. I reviewed it last year in the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed his interview on WNYC a couple of weeks ago.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks — I added those urls to the post.

Marty Wombacher said...

I'll watch this tonight on Netflix, thanks for letting me know it's available there, VH McKenzie!

shmnyc said...

There are so many good documentaries up this year. I wish them all the best.

Anonymous said...

Oscars: a bunch of rich guys giving themselves awards. I'd rather knock my head against a wall.

Matt said...

Amazing film. And weirdly uplifting considering that it's about a bunch of young men dying of a terrifying new disease made worse by willful government neglect and insane bigotry. But they moved mountains and, 15 years or so after it started, cajoled the government and drug companies into producing effective treatments. Along the way they made the nation confront its bigotry and recognize their humanity. Thanks, Mr. France, for preserving this history so beautifully, and for reminding us that a handful of activists can change the world

DrBOP said...

No matter if you win or lose the Oscar Mr France.....your already a BIG winner of the human race.

Thanks MUCH for ALL your, and your team's, efforts.

Viva la persistance!