How to Survive a Plague

Synopsis: In the early years of the AIDS epidemic, the disease was considered a death sentence affecting communities, like the LGBT ones, whom many in power felt deserved it. This film tells the story of how militant activists like ACT-UP and TAG pushed for a meaningful response to this serious public health problem. As the activists struggled against political indifference, religious hostility, corporate greed and apparently skewed scientific research priorities with determination and sheer audacity, they produced a political wave that would lead to not only an effective treatment regime, but would advance LGBT rights beyond anyone's expectations.
Director(s): David France
Production: Sundance Selects
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 19 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
110 min

Welcome to ACT UP!

We are the AIDS coalition

to unleash power.

A diverse non-partisan group

of individuals united in anger

and committed to direct action to...

...end the AIDS crisis!

Less than 12 hours from now,

we are going to be taking over

city hall!

ACT UP, fight back, fight AIDS!


Mr. mayor, in campaigning for

the lesbian and gay vote in an

election year, a bit of

historical context is necessary

in dealing with the AIDS

crisis in New York City.

It wasn't until 1983 that you met with

people to deal with the AIDS crisis.

- How do you respond to these criticisms?

- That is a falsehood.

Please, anybody who's thinking

about being arrested,

fill out a support sheet, make

sure your support person knows

who you are and what

group you're in... yeah?

If we end up in the tombs,

is there like, a queer tank

there and would you recommend

that we ask to be there?

There is a homo-tank and

I've been there and it's

better than the straight

tank, let me tell you.

Who else? Yes?

In the past, you've described act

up as fascist, yet in the press

release, you called them

"concerned citizens" and I was

wondering what

changed your mind?

Well, I don't think

you can't use both.

Fascists can be concerned

citizens and I don't believe

they are fascists, I think they

have used a fascist tactic.

Let us celebrate together

tonight, the end of the last day

on which Ed Koch can tell

himself that the communities

which are being decimated by

this epidemic are so weak and

so divided among themselves, that he can

keep serving us this kind of bullshit.

Tomorrow morning he will

begin to learn the truth!

ACT UP, stand tall, tomorrow

morning at city hall!

ACT UP, stand tall,

tomorrow morning at city hall!

ACT UP, stand tall,

tomorrow morning at city hall!

ACT UP, stand tall...

We're talking to Jim Eigo from the

treatment issues committee of ACT UP.

Jim, what specific

treatment issues are being

brought into this

demonstration this week?

The municipal hospitals are

totally falling apart.

More than half of the people

that get diagnosed with AIDS

today get diagnosed in the

emergency rooms of our city.

You're going to find yourself

waiting four days in an

emergency room before

you get a bed.

Pretty scared, but being

HIV-positive, I don't have

much choice in the matter.

I just love all these people,

and I think what we're doing is

really right and I mean, listen to

this and look at all the people.

It's just really wonderful and it's

worth putting yourself on the line for.

...there is no

accurate diagnosis.

There are incentives in the city

hospitals not to diagnose people

with AIDS and therefore,

people don't get treated.

We are angry at the way this

city has handled this crisis

and we demand that ed Koch exert leadership

and declare a state of emergency.

Go in the street now or wait,

those are the options.

- One, he says go.

- Go now.

Says now, three.


Go now, Tom says.

We're standing here

with Larry Kramer.

What is ACT UP trying to

say today to Ed Koch?

We're sending a message to

public officials, to closeted

public officials, that we won't

be shat on anymore and obviously

all the AIDS issues.

I would love to see

like, more cameras or

something, you know, for

our own protection.

Did everyone hear his concern?

People die every day,

friends get sick every day.

It's like being in the trenches.

There's such anger in the

community and it is coalescing

in a way that has never

been done before.

Okay, which way do we face

girlfriends, this way or that way?

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David France

David Harry France, (born 30 June 1948) is an author, football historian and philanthropist. Throughout the past two decades, he has been the driving force behind numerous initiatives related to Everton Football Club including Gwladys Street's Hall of Fame, the Everton Former Players' Foundation, the EFC Heritage Society, the Founding Fathers of Merseyside Football and the David France Collection (now known as the Everton Collection). In January 2011, Liverpool's Freedom of the City panel rewarded David France with the prestigious title of Citizen of Honour.France was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to football in the United Kingdom and Europe. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018


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"How to Survive a Plague" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 26 Jan. 2020. <>.

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