UPDATE: Sundance Selects has made this deal official. The release follows our original exclusive below.
PREVIOUS, BREAKING: We’re hearing that IFC has scored another picture, its third in 12 hours, acquiring rights to the lauded documentary How To Survive A Plague for its Sundance Selects label. The David France-written and -directed film charts the remarkable story of how ACT-UP and Treatment Action Group overcame a pattern of apathy by politicians toward an AIDS scourge that was ravaging the gay community. Their activism and inventiveness transformed a death sentence into a manageable and treatable disease by infiltrating the pharmaceutical industry and identifying new drugs and speeding them through the trial phase to AIDS sufferers in short order. The docu got a rousing response when premiering Sunday at Temple Theater. Submarine brokered the deal.
Park City, UT (January 26, 2012) – Sundance Selects announced today from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that the company is acquiring North American rights to David France’s documentary HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE. The film, with a screenplay by France, T. Woody Richman, and Tyler H. Walk, wasproduced by France and Howard Gertler. Joy Tomchin and Dan Cogan executive produced the project, which was made in association with Ford Foundation/JustFilms, Impact Partners, and Little Punk.
Faced with their own mortality, an improbable group of mostly HIV-positive young men and women broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment. How to Survive a Plague is the story of two coalitions—ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group)—whose activism and innovation turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition. Despite having no scientific training, these self-made activists infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry and helped identify promising new drugs, movingthem from experimental trials to patients in record time. Having pursued andunearthed a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and ’90s, filmmaker France puts the viewer smack in the middle of the controversial actions, the heated meetings, the heartbreaking failures, and the exultant breakthroughs of heroes in the making.
Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Films, said: “This is a towering film in the history of cinema about social activism. It’s astonishing use of archival material to reconstruct an era of political indifference in the face of an unimaginable health crisis helps to create a new blueprint for modern activists. David France has made a deeply powerful and unforgettable film which we look forward to bringing to the widest audience possible.”
“I am thrilled we’re beginning this film’s journey with Sundance Selects, whose impressive track record promoting important films has found new audiences for documentaries,” said France. “We couldn’t be in better hands.”
“Their passion and vision for releasing the film has wowed us,” added Gertler.
Executive Producer Joy Tomchin commented: “With Sundance Selects this remarkable story of heroism will have the long life it deserves.”
The deal for the film was negotiated by Arianna Bocco, Senior Vice President of Acquisitions & Productions for Sundance Selects/IFC Films and Betsy Rodgers, Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Sundance Selects/IFC Films withJosh Braun, David Koh, Dan Braun and Dan O’Meara of Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.
Sundance Selects is a sister division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.