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Oscar-Nominated Documentary “How to Survive a Plague” to Become ABC Miniseries

David France’s 2012 documentary “How to Survive a Plague” has been optioned by ABC Studios, which is planning to develop the film into a dramatic miniseries.

The Hollywood Reporter has the exclusive:

Mere days after the Academy Awards, ABC Studios has bought rights to David France?s film, which follows an improbable group of young people — many of them HIV-positive young men — with an eye toward a potential dramatic miniseries. Until now, ABC had not dabbled in miniseries for half a decade, when the Disney-owned network rolled out A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald.

France’s widely acclaimed doc, which he co-wrote and directed, focuses on two coalitions — ACT UP and Treatment Action Group (TAG) — whose activism and innovation helped turn AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, moving them from experimental trials to real-world patients in record time.

Read the full article via THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of the brave young men and women who successfully reversed the tide of an epidemic, demanded the attention of a fearful nation and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence. This improbable group of activists bucked oppression and, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, helping to identify promising new medication and treatments and move them through trials and into drugstores in record time. In the process, they saved their own lives and ended the darkest days of a veritable plague, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals in the process. The powerful story of their fight is a classic tale of empowerment and activism that has since inspired movements for change in everything from breast cancer research to Occupy Wall Street. Their story stands as a powerful inspiration to future generations, a road map, and a call to arms. This is how you change the world.

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Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival, New Directors/New films, San Francisco International FF, Provincetown FF, Outfest Documentary Centerpiece, Seattle International FF

“Words like ?important? and ?inspiring? tend too often to be meaninglessly attached to non-fiction filmmaking, but in the case of David France?s compelling snapshot of a revolutionary period in AIDS treatment, they are amply justified? An epic celebration of heroism and tenacity, and less directly, a useful template for any fledgling activist movement, demonstrating the effectiveness of inside/outside strategy.?
-David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

?I sat down to watch ?How to Survive a Plague,? a new documentary about the history of the AIDS epidemic, expecting to cry, and cry I did…I expected to be angry. Here, too, I wasn?t disappointed. What I didn?t expect was how much hope I would feel. How much comfort. While the movie vividly chronicles the wages of bigotry and neglect, it even more vividly chronicles how much society can budge when the people exhorting it to are united and determined and smart and right. The fight in us eclipses the sloth and surrender, and the good really does outweigh the bad. That?s a takeaway of ?How to Survive a Plague,? and that?s a takeaway of the AIDS crisis as well.?
-Frank Bruni, The New York Times

In the dark days of 1987, the country was six years into the AIDS epidemic, a crisis that was still largely being ignored both by government officials and health organizations?until the sudden emergence of the activist group ACT UP in Greenwich Village, largely made up of HIV-positive participants who refused to die without a fight. Emboldened by the power of rebellion, they took on the challenges that 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 guide the way to the discovery of effective AIDS drugs that stopped an HIV diagnosis from being an automatic death sentence?and allowed them to live long 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 (30 videographers are credited)?to create not just an historical document, but an intimate and visceral recreation of the period through the very personal stories of some of ACT UP?s leading participants. A handbook for all activists who want to make change, 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.

Peter Staley in a scene from David France?s HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE. Photo by William Lucas Walker.

David France, director of HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE. Photo by Karine Laval.

Remaining activist art photos from NY Public Library Archives