ACT UP and their colleagues fought for nine years before winning life-saving medications. They organized a mass movement, they took to the streets, they made art, they made noise, they made a difference. Their tools included clear demands, arresting graphics, media savvy, and an ability to learn from their mistakes and refine their strategies. And a sense of humor, when appropriate, in combination with their urgent and ethical message.
Whether outside the halls of power with banners and bullhorns, or inside at the table with leaders in research, treatment, drug-development and funding, they never deviated from their fundamental objective: Finding drugs to save their lives and the lives of six million others as well.
Faced with their own mortality an improbable group of young people, many of them HIV-positive young men, broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment.
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and ’90s, filmmaker David France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.
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