How to Survive a Plague
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Moving and essential. --Bruce Diones, New Yorker
When it's over, this documentary lingers as a testament to extraordinary human bravery. It stands as one of the most heartbreaking and suspenseful sagas of the year. --Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle
Top Customer Reviews
This is a film about the activists in the Gay Community, who gathered to fight this disease that was taking their lovers, friends and community. Act Up with Larry Kramer was loud and proud. They forced pharmaceutical companies to start working for medications, the Government to listen and care,,and the population who were doing nothing. Essentially Larry Kramer and his fellow men fought the plague, while most everyone else stood around and looked.
This was a horrible time, President Reagan disavowed all knowledge. Thousands of men were dying and very few cared. These men were and are heroes. Why so many did so little will never be forgotten. Today we have drugs that work in tandem that have made AIDS a chronic disease. The Gay Community saved themselves, no one else. What a deadly legacy we almost gave our fellow humans. Bless all those who are gone.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 03-02-13
Of course, given the topic, we know that many of those attractive, articulate and intelligent men we meet will be dead by the time the final credits run, but it is endlessly fascinating to see how smart the activists were and how quickly they learned everything they had to know in order to have credibility with the US FDA and with Big Pharma. They actually wrote the protocol for testing that surprised the federal agency with its professionalism and ease of application.
There are meetings in which the activists learn the art of the "sound bite" and are reminded to be passive and polite but express their outrage to any media in the area. It shows the ads they sponsored attacking President George H. W. Bush, it shows a defensive Bill Clinton dressing down an activist and surprisingly, it shows Patrick Buchanan agreeing with an ACT UP spokesman as opposed to a government official.
Several pharmaceutical companies began working with them and along with a little success, came internal squabbles. In one clip, playwright/ activist Larry Kramer blasts them for their petty quarrels while "we are fighting a plague!"
Remember the AIDS quilt? The dumping of victims' ashes on the White House lawn? The Senate hearings? The Kaposi's Sarcomas? The advent of the three-way cocktail that ultimately saved thousands of lives? There is much, much more to see. I felt this 2012 Seattle International Film Festival entry was somewhat dated, but to the best of my knowledge, no one has documented the entire arc, so it's about time! Amazon.com will notify me when it's available.
This documentary has received a well-deserved nomination for Best Documentary in the 2013 Academy Awards.
While "How To Survive A Plague" does feature plenty of interviews with key members of the ACT UP movement, this is not a standard "talking heads" style presentation. Meetings, casual moments, and big protests were all captured while they were happening. Instead of the movie feeling like a remembrance, it feels incredibly timely and alive. As a viewer, I felt like I was there. That's a huge compliment to the way in which this presentation was assembled and why I think this should be essential viewing to just about everyone. It depicts ordinary citizens standing up for a basic healthcare imperative against obstacles of ignorance, indifference, and apathy because the disease was perceived as a homosexual problem.Read more ›
I lived through this time living with HIV, expecting to die before anything could be done. Young people today don't watch their friends drop like flies wasted away to concentration camp victims. Young people NEED to watch this film, but I just couldn't after about 35 minutes. It became just too painful. It pushed too many of my PTSD buttons, yet I feel it's an important film, demonstrating the power in activism. So many of us are alive today due to activism to change the way the FDA releases HIV drugs. We just didn't have the time for the usual drug approval process.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Poignant review of a courageous group of folks who challenged the system.Published 2 months ago by Ed Bryan
Absolutely love this movie!! So moving and well done. I have used it while teaching a course in policy and advocacy recently.Published 3 months ago by Susanne T.
A truly powerful depiction of a courageous story. Never underestimate the power that people have to change the world. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Another powerful documentary. A moving experience and historical and educational on this horrible reality of a killer that kills beyond race, beliefs, sexual reality. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Seeking New Things
I was really moved by this film. It was well done and informative. A must see.Published 6 months ago by Worx
really great documentary about ACT UP and subsequent activist organizations. Sobering to re-live the AIDS crisis, but fascinating to see how it went down from our current,... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Kurt Hoffman