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How To Survive a Plague

21how_span-thumbstandard This passionate documentary focuses on the grass-roots crusade in the 1980s and '90s to speed up efforts at developing treatments for the HIV virus. The film follows AIDS activists to Washington, where they challenge the government to act.
HD Available
Netflix Rating: 4.0
NYT Critics' Pick
David France’s documentary “How to Survive a Plague" is a history of the fiery force of Act Up in the life-or-death fight for drugs to treat AIDS. Read the review
Rotten Tomatoes® Scores
99%  
82%
 
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

See all How To Survive a Plague Reviews

 
A raw history, often cluttered and sometimes repetitive but, when strategies fail along with immune systems, deeply affecting.
Rick Groen, Globe and Mail  full review
 
Presents a valuable template for how grassroots activism can temper societal prejudice and challenge governmental indifference in the face of a mysterious and remorseless killer.
Bruce Demara, Toronto Star  full review
 
[A] powerful, messy and tremendously moving documentary ...
Claude Peck, Minneapolis Star Tribune  full review
 
"How to Survive a Plague" captures a saddening, maddening era that seems like far too many lifetimes ago.
Ann Hornaday, Washington Post  full review
 
It can feel inchoate, dropping the viewer in the middle of events without much context, and it exacts an emotional toll. But its raw quality also makes it compelling viewing.
Tirdad Derakhshani, Philadelphia Inquirer  full review
 
Plague isn't the history of a disease so much as the history of a movement, and a portrait of those who refused to suffer passively.
Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News  full review
 
Moving and essential.
Bruce Diones, New Yorker  full review
 
France and his crew have sculpted years of old broadcast-news stories and home videos into a narrative that is impressionistic in its scope but coherent in its feeling.
Wesley Morris, Boston Globe  full review
 
One of the most important documentaries in years or decades ...
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com  full review
 
Mostly the film toggles between two emotions - the high of watching brave people go to war, and the low of seeing so many of them fall, as entire communities are destroyed.
Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger  full review
 
France, drawing on a wealth of video footage from inside the organization, turns that decade of rage, despair, and tenacity into an inspiring tale of effective political action.
J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader  full review
 
A heart-wrenching portrait of one of the saddest, most heroic chapters in American history.
Sara Stewart, New York Post  full review
 
When it's over, this documentary lingers as a testament to extraordinary human bravery. It stands as one of the most heartbreaking and suspenseful sagas of the year.
Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle  full review
 
If the movie expresses equal measures of sadness and outrage, it is charged with the exhilarating excitement felt by soldiers on the front lines of battle.
Stephen Holden, New York Times  full review
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