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Mon Apr 28, 2014, 01:41 PM

Peabody Winners Recap (4.28.2014): ABC, King 5 Television, and How to Survive a Plague LLC


Peabody Winners Recap: ABC, King 5 Television, and How to Survive a Plague LLC
April 28 2014


Independent Lens: How to Survive a Plague (PBS)

When the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, better known by its acronym ACT UP, first staged protests in New York in 1987, the epidemic was in its sixth year. Most people who contracted the disease died. Drugs to stop or slow AIDS were nonexistent, research minimal. Hospitals rejected the dying, funeral homes refused their remains. Government and religious leaders tended to blame the victims.

It was a dark time in more ways than one. How to Survive a Plague revisits that time, providing a defiant, boisterous, illuminating, humbling retrospective of how some of the sick and abandoned took responsibility for their own fates, using whatever means possible – information campaigns, mass protests, guerilla theater – to fight the hysteria and misinformation and push for research. Relying largely on previously unseen video shot by AIDS activists themselves, David France’s documentary chronicles the epic campaign against ignorance and homophobia. In the process, he and those activists provide an adaptable, practical model for pursing social justice.



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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