David France on Oscar nominated documentary 'How to Survive a Plague'

By Zach Laws
By Zach Laws
Feb 15 2013 10:09 am
0
See Zach's
Predictions
Feb 22 2015 13:45 pm
Get Gold Derby's free news alerts and predictions

David France credits his years of experience in print journalism for the success of his first venture into moviemaking, “How to Survive a Plague.” The gritty film, which details the courageous actions of two grassroots coalitions -- ACT UP and TAG -- to raise awareness of AIDS in the 1980s, contends for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. 

“I’d long been covering the AIDS epidemic,” says France, “so this is a story I wanted to go back to and try and make sense of, the story of the plague years in America before the effective medications came out that made surviving AIDS a possibility. I realized that a story of that time really needed to focus on the individuals whose activism helped bring us to those drugs, and helped bring a close to the plague years. That’s a story of the beginning of patient advocacy, and the creation of citizen scientists.”

France made use of years of archival footage to construct his narrative, bringing in over 800 hours of vintage video from several sources. “The camcorder revolution was really at its infancy in 1987, when AIDS activism began,” explains the filmmaker. “The activists were among the first to really take up that technology and try and find social and political and cultural uses. It was important for them to do it because the mainstream media wasn’t covering it.”

“How to Survive a Plague” won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best First Film as well as  Best Documentary from the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Gotham Awards.  

Our experts rank the film second with odds of 4/1 to win, behind “Searching for Sugar Man,” which has odds of 13/8. 

In the video chat below, France reveals his biggest challenge was getting interviews with survivors of the plague. “Most of them were reluctant to do it. Many of us who survived those times have found ways to wall off the memories in order to make an ongoing normalness possible. It was a lot I was asking from them.”

 
Related News
Make your Emmy & reality TV predictions.
Win prizes: $100 to $1,000.
pop up close

Advertisement

MAKE YOUR PREDICTIONS HERE & NOW: Win prizes, compete against experts, fans and your friends


WIN weekly prizes: Predict "America's Got Talent," "Big Brother" and "So You Think You Can Dance": Win $100 Amazon Gift Certificates.


Predict Emmy Awards winners: Win BIG prizes, bragging rights, top spot on our leaderboards and a place of honor on next year's Top 24 Users (see what this year's are predicting to win below).
 

CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED. We'll send you personal notifications of your scores.

 

News Headlines
Hot Links from the Web

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Photo Galleries: Oscars, Emmys, ...

Advertisement