Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Making the Past Urgent Again: David France's Thrilling "How to Survive A Plague"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik September 19, 2012 at 10:17AM

For my latest Docutopia column at the SundanceNow blog, "You Are There: Docs in the Moment," I address the thrilling AIDS doc "How to Survive Plague," which provides an almost real-time chronicle of history as if it was unfolding at this very moment. The film, which opens theatrically this Friday, puts the viewer smack dab in the middle of the struggle to combat the AIDS virus in the 1980s. Using archival footage culled from some 700 hours of video, the movie presents an urgent, you-are-there account of those who worked within the advocacy group ACT UP.
0

For my latest Docutopia column at the SundanceNow blog, "You Are There: Docs in the Moment," I address the thrilling AIDS doc "How to Survive Plague," which provides an almost real-time chronicle of history as if it was unfolding at this very moment. The film, which opens theatrically this Friday, puts the viewer smack dab in the middle of the struggle to combat the AIDS virus in the 1980s. Using archival footage culled from some 700 hours of video, the movie presents an urgent, you-are-there account of those who worked within the advocacy group ACT UP.

plague

Here's an exerpt from the post. To read more, hit the link:

France’s aesthetic decision pays off in innumerable ways: Not only does the documentary zip along like a fast-breaking news story (this despite spanning some 10 years of material), it makes distant events tangible. For many, the blight of AIDS may seem like a crisis that was resolved a long time ago, but 'How to Survive a Plague' brings us back to a time when it was a frightening epidemic. When, for example, in a period of internal division within ACT UP, Kramer delivers a rousing and furious speech—”Plague!” he yells, “we are in the middle of a plague; 40 million infected people is a plague”—it’s difficult not to feel right at the center of that conflict.

Documentaries about the AIDS crisis are nothing new, of course ("The Origin of AIDS," "Silverlake Life," last year’s "We Were Here"), but "How to Survive a Plague" makes the story fresh, and the frustrations and fury of the period palpable. These activists are literally fighting for their lives, and to watch them in the midst of that struggle makes for compelling viewing.

The affective power of "How to Survive a Plague" recalls a couple of not-to-be-forgotten documentaries from the last decade that also used a rich archive of material to make the past feel urgently present.

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Niccolo Ungaro: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 11:10am

By Niccolo Ungarp: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 11:10am

By Abdul Majid: President Nasheed is our only hope for democracy in my country. This country cannot go forward with him in jail. Please help secure his…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 7:46am

By imran: As a maldivian myself I call upon the international community to fight against the fabricated accusations Against president nasheed.the real…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 5:12am

By Ahmed Aslam: I support president Nasheed! He has been jailed and tortured several times over the last 25 years fighting for democracy and human rights

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 4:38am

By Ahmed Iyaz: President Mohamed Nasheed is the only President who gave Maldivians freedom of expression. I'm totally against of unlawful arrest of him and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 3:58am

By Eugene Jarecki: I lend my voice passionately to this cause. It is of the utmost importance.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 3:03am

By Ahmed: Former President Nasheeds regime was a disaster to Maldives. A real dictator. Forcefuly arrested the Chief Judge at midnight while sleeping…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 2:06am

By Mohamed Salih Hassan: Former President Mohamed Nasheed should get fair trial. Call current govt of Maldives to hear majority of people's voice.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 2:01am

By Mohamed Shareef: my Dear HEP Yamin. Please Release Ex- HEP Mohamed Nasheed from Custody, Because PG& You create & Make This case Against him He…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 5th, 2015 11:27pm