How to Survive a Plague
Even though the critically acclaimed documentary, "How to Survive a Plague," did not pick up an Oscar at the 85th Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature last month, the film should not be over looked. Directed by David France, "How to Survive a Plague" chronicles the emotional and physical struggles of AIDS activists during the early years of the global pandemic.
By using archived footage as well as recent interviews with activists from ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), TAG (Treatment Action Group), scientists and politicians, "How to Survive a Plague" documents the tireless and courageous efforts of the women and men who fought to get AIDS recognized as a public health crisis by society and the government.
David France’s documentary highlights the social, political, and economic barriers to the LGBT community during the 80s and 90s. Antagonists, Jesse Helms and Ed Koch’s reactions to the AIDS crisis are cringe worthy as well the hospitals that routinely turned gays away. The documentary captures a roller coaster of emotions, at times funny, sad, raw, and poignant. The viewers are reminded of the ignorance of society during the early days of AIDS.
From the opening scene of emaciated people suffering in hospital rooms, "How to Survive a Plague" succeeds in painting a timeline of the AIDS pandemic shown through the eyes of the activists. At times the timeline is horrific and emotional but overall it is powerful and inspiring. The audience bears witness to protesters from Greenwich Village becoming passionate activists and champions against the goliath of the US government.
Superhuman Happiness is responsible for the film’s excellent score. Using strings, synthesizers, and killer guitar riffs, Superhuman Happiness utilizes modern beats that add to the film’s relevance and emotion.
The DVD released on Feb. 26, 2012 features commentary from director David France, ACT UP Activists, and deleted scenes.
This documentary couldn’t have come at a better time. As current public opinion shifts in favor of gay rights, the audience can see how the perception of AIDS and the gay community has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. Hands down, "How to Survive a Plague" is one of the best documentaries released last year.
"How to Survive a Plague"