Thursday night, I attended an advance screening of clips from a film that will be premiering at Sundance next month, “How To Survive A Plague”. It looks to be a powerfully moving documentary about the “early years” of HIV/AIDS activism, mainly the people involved with ACT UP. The filmmaker (an ACT UP activist himself, back in the day) has taken hundreds of hours of video footage, a lot of it home video shot by the activists who were participating (who’ve mostly all died now), and stored all these years by their families, friends, lovers, partners, & other film makers. At that time, there was no mainstream media news coverage of ACT UP’s actions so these never-before-seen bits & pieces of video people shot with their early-90’s camcorders is all there is to document what was happening. It’s a testament to the director’s talent that he has curated it all into a film that looks as though it was shot by a single film crew, Cinéma vérité-style. From what I saw, you’ll want to keep your eye out for this film next year.
Along with the screening there was a Q & A discussion with some rather incredible people. Along with the film’s director, David France, and several others, the panel included: Peter Staley (founder & advisory editor of AIDSMeds.com), Phill Wilson (founder & executive director of the Black AIDS Institute), and a truly remarkable woman, Rolake Odetoyinbo (founder & project director of Positive Action for Treatment Access, an organization ensuring access for all to treatment education in Nigeria).
If you’d like more information about the film, it has a Facebook page.