EXCLUSIVE: Filmmaker David France Discusses His Oscar-Nominated AIDS Documentary, “How To Survive A Plague”

It’s lean pickings for LGBT films at the Oscars this year, but David France’s seminal AIDS documentary did get a nod in the Best Documentary Feature category. Last January, Queerty’s Evan Mulvihill interviewed France as Plague was screeningat the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

The film traces the birth of the Treatment Action Group (TAG), which was devoted to fast-tracking drugs that could save, or at least extend, the lives of those swept up in the epidemic. France sifted through thousands of hours of archival footage from late ’80s and early ’90s, masterfully splicing together a tale which imparts, in equal parts, the anger and sorrow of AIDS victims who believe they will die from the then-unmanageable disease, the excitement and mischievousness of activists’ attention-grabbing antics, and the pride and joy of being on the front lines of a movement that helped make AIDS a survivable disease.

“I guess it was kind of fascinating to me that this had become a kind of ancient history,” he told Queerty. “That the ’80s needed explanation now. At some point your own story becomes history.”

Above France discusses his involvement in early AIDS activism, how the loss of his partner (to whom this movie is dedicated) inspired the film, and what young gay activists can learn from their predecessors. 


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