02nd Apr2014

How to Survive a Plague – DVD

by timbaros
images-143How to Survive a Plague (Directed by David France), nominated this past year for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, begins in 1987, six years into what activist Larry Kramer called ‘The Plague’ – the AIDS crisis.
It is in Greenwich Village in the 1980’s where HIV activism began, and we meet several very young men who unfortunately have been diagnosed as HIV Positive. They come together as part of the activist group ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) to protest against the government’s handling of the AIDS crisis. They perform civil disobedience demonstrations against the drug companies and get into shouting matches with political leaders. Amongst these men is Peter Staley, a former bond trader who was forced into disability at age 26 and was told he had only months to live. Other members of ACT UP that we meet in the documentary are Mark Harrington, who joined ACT Up upon learning that an ex-lover was sick, David Barr, a laywer who was one of the leaders of ACT Up, Bill Bahlman, who was one of the first in the community to invent the idea of  “treatment activism,” and Bob Rafsky, a former PR executive, with a young daughter, who becomes the mouthpiece for ACT Up.
In March 1987, ACT Up stages its first demonstration, on Wall Street, to protest the high cost of AZT, the only drug at that time prescribed to HIV patients. How to Survive a Plaque also shows, using archival and amateur footage throughout, the group staging protests on the Mall in Washington, D.C., at the Federal Drug Administration, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, and at the headquarters of AZT manufacturer Burroughs Wellcome.
During the time of these protests, several members of ACT Up die of AIDS, and one is marched through the streets in Greenwich village on the eve of Bill Clinton winning the presidency. Another march on the White House is one of the most emotional parts of the film as we see several people throwing ashes of their loved ones over the fence and into the White House lawn. Eventually Act Up breaks into a couple splinter groups with the core of the activists establishing the Treatment Action Group whose sole purpose was to take their battle to the highest levels of AIDS research. There is a lot more to this documentary than what is written here, and if you are old enough to remember what it was like in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when friends were dying right and left, then this documentary will be very emotional to watch. How to Survive a Plague sets the record straight, for the first time, to show these few and young men fighting for their lives when no one else would fight for them. They helped to make survival of being HIV positive possible. And near the end, we see the surviving members what they look like today, with battlescars, both emotional and physical.


How to Survive a Plague [DVD] (DVD)

Director: David France
Rating: Exempt

New From: £5.98 GBP In Stock
Used from: £5.90 GBP In Stock