The early 1980s, in the United States, were not only about neon and spandex (though there was more than enough to go around). When gay men, among others, were struck with a strange illness, baffling public health officials, misinformation skyrocketed. It was a terrifying mix of a lack of information coupled with ignorance; both of which gay communities from San Francisco to New York City could not abide, of course. People were dying. Soon, advocates came together to raise their voices, in a life-or-death battle, to push for more and deeper attention to AIDS -a disease which had quickly become a death sentence.
Fast forward to current day Seattle, WA where we're lucky enough to host one of the world's largest film festivals - the Seattle International Film Festival.
"At some point, your own story becomes history."
This year there's one special film debuting at the festival which intersects deeply with the work of the Gates Foundation. How To Survive A Plague, details the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the United States; specifically telling the stories of a small group of people, over nine years, in what was no less than an epic battle. These are the pioneers of the AIDS advocacy movement including ACT-UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), the groups whose "activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition."
Interested? Check out the video interview about the film, with filmmaker David France, below.
The documentary is not available for viewing yet but if you head to the film’s web site, you can find more information.
As the International AIDS Conference nears, we’ll share more stories on Impatient Optimists; stories of those involved in the fight for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention around the world, those who now live with HIV here in the United States and in the poorest parts of the world, and of those who have died and continue to die from an epidemic whose story will hopefully end sooner than later.