IFC Films

Sundance Selects Takes North American Rights to David France’s How to Survive a Plague

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, was produced 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, moving them from experimental trials to patients in record time. Having pursued and unearthed 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 with Josh 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.

Established in 2009 and based in New York City, Sundance Selects is a leading U.S. distributor of prestige films focusing on American independents, documentaries and world cinema. Its unique distribution model makes independent prestige films available to a national audience by releasing them in theaters as well as on cable’s Video On Demand (VOD) platform, reaching nearly 50 million homes. Some of the company’s successes include Sundance audience award–winner and one of NBR’s top five films of 2011, BUCK, Academy Award® winner Errol Morris’ documentary TABLOID, and Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, which at $5.2 million and counting has become the company’s biggest grossing success since MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING and the number one indie documentary of the year. The film also was named Best Documentary by the New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Washington D.C. Film Critics, and the NY Film Critics Online.  The distributor is also behind Sundance award–winning THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE: 1967–1974, SXSW award–winner WEEKEND, director Wim Wenders’ 3D PINA which is Germany’s Official entry to the 2012 Academy Awards, Werner Herzog’s acclaimed documentary INTO THE ABYSS, Cannes Grand Prix winner THE KID WITH A BIKE directed by the Dardennes brothers, and Maiwenn’s Cannes Prix du Jury winner POLISS. Sundance Selects is a sister division to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, and is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc.

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