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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


  • Big Screen alerts


CurtainCall Oct. 25, 2012 @ 4:32 p.m.

Alternate titles:

How to Get the Gov't To Spend Less Researching Nonpreventable Diseases Such as Cancer and Spend More on a 100% Preventable Disease

It's the Government's Fault that I Had Unprotected Sodomy and Now I'm Dying of a Sexually Transmitted Disease

Why the Government Spends $310,000 Per AIDS Death, But Only $10,500 Per Cancer Death

Why the Government Spends Almost Twice as Much Annually on Aids than Hepatitis, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's Combined.


Scott Marks Oct. 25, 2012 @ 10:33 p.m.

You should consider shortening these. They don't make marquees like they used to.


CurtainCall Oct. 29, 2012 @ 11:11 a.m.

It's true. The era of of huge single-screen theaters, and their huge marquees, is over. I miss it.


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