Documentary Review – How to Survive a Plague
How to Survive A Plague, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary feature focuses on the Aids crisis in the late 80’s to early 90s focusing heavily on the impact of gay men in New York City. I took advantage of having most of the documentary nominees available for me to view before the Oscars aired. Since I grew up during this time in the same city a lot of what I was seeing really took me back to those moments.
A lot of the footage in How to Survive A Plague is from the group ACT UP. There are a few key people who are followed during the film which spans several years but they aren’t the focus. The focus is on the astronomical cost of Aids drugs when they came on the market, trials conducted by NIH at the time on drugs already available not new ones as well as trials that only focused on white gay males. The reaction from political pundits is also examined.
I was so caught up watching How to Survive A Plague and I’m sure a lot of is because of my own memory. I recall how much Aids Awareness existed at the time and how many of the people rallying alongside the masses were not gay men but straight men, women, and people of various races. The fight was strong and this movie shows it. Its also very sobering. Throughout the film many HIV-positive people died. The credits lists which of the people featured have already passed and lists the date of their death. Its a powerful film that captured that moment in time and how not wavering and fighting is why we have some of the advances in HIV/Aids medicine. The never backed down and you can feel it.
Director: David France
Run time: 109 minutes