Jeff Smith 10:30 a.m., Feb. 21
Review: How to Survive a Plague
David France’s documentary about the advancements made in AIDS research, composed almost entirely of archival footage, is not much to look at. Even harder to endure are images of the ravaged victims, which are at times as excruciating to watch as a Holocaust documentary. At the dawn of the AIDS epidemic, while the government was scratching its head and wondering what to do with Americans dying off in record numbers, two coalitions — ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group) — stepped in and stepped up the medical breakthroughs in health care needed to transform the disease from a plague into the “manageable condition” it is today. How to Survive a Plague is not a film that attempts to sentimentalize an issue or wring pity from its viewers. It’s a triumphant portrait of a group of gallant men and women striving in the face of near certain defeat, and how hard they worked to remove government from their lives in order to do right by the people.
Reader Rating: Four Stars