How to Survive a Plague (with ACT UP member Maria Maggenti in person!)

Co-presented by Courtney Stephens of Veggie Cloud

In the dark days of 1987, the country was six years into the AIDS epidemic, a crisis that was still being largely ignored by government officials and health organizations — until the emergence of the activist group ACT UP. Largely made up of HIV-positive participants who refused to die without a fight, they took on the challenges public officials had ignored, raising awareness of the disease through a series of dramatic protests. More remarkably, they became recognized experts in virology, biology, and pharmaceutical chemistry. Their efforts would see them seize the reins of federal policy from the FDA and NIH, force the AIDS conversation into the 1992 presidential election, and lead the way to the discovery of effective AIDS drugs that saved countless lives.

First-time director and award-winning journalist David France, who has been covering the AIDS crisis for 30 years, culls from a huge amount of archival footage — most of it shot by the protestors themselves. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, How to Survive a Plague captures both the joy and terror of those days, and the epic day-by-day battles that finally made AIDS survival possible.

The film will be followed by a Q&A with longtime ACT UP member Maria Maggenti, who began attending meetings two weeks after the group’s inception when she was a student at NYU. Maggenti is also a filmmaker, whose films as writer/director are The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love, Puccini for Beginners and most recently, as screenwriter, Ry Russo Young’s Before I Fall.

This presentation of the film is part of bi-coastal effort to help fund Housing Works’ National Advocacy Trainings, which teach citizens to raise their voices at town hall meetings and with elected officials, to fight back against right-wing attacks on our health care. Please consider supporting their excellent work here.

Dir. David France, 2012, DCP, 110 min.

Watch the trailer!