Sundance Selects is acquiring the North American rights to the AIDS documentary "How to Survive a Plague," the company announced today at the Sundance festival. Directed by David France, a journalist and former Newsweek editor, the documentary chronicles the struggle of a group of young men and women with little scientific experience, many of them HIV-positive, who took on the pharmaceutical industry and pushed for the urgent need to develop new AIDS drugs when the disease was still new.
France's film includes never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and 1990s, and focuses on the fight of a group of activists to transform living with HIV from a death sentence to a livable condition.
In his review of the film, Screen's David D'Arcy wrote that the documentary "looks and feels like an unruly collage that is anything but conventionally cinematic," but also praised it for reaching "a heartbreaking crescendo in archival footage." In its packed premiere at Sundance, the film received two standing ovations—one for the screening and one for the Q&A that followed.