This essential film is currently only available to Baltimore audiences on Comcast On Demand. When it comes to theaters, I will re-post the review.
It’s fitting that David France’s stirring and powerful documentary is titled like a how-to guide, because the film—which tells the story of ACT UP through astonishing archival footage, home video, and contemporary interviews—is an object lesson in how to create a successful activist movement.
1. Get a lot of pissed off people. ACT UP began because a lot of young people were dying and the government and the NIH and the FDA weren’t doing enough about it. And because this threatened community—many gay young men—were being cut down in the prime of their lives, there was an energy, an urgency, and a sense of righteous anger that was palpable. Many of the members of ACT UP had AIDS or the HIV-virus themselves; many had lost a loved one to the disease; some just refused to sit by idly during a holocaust. (Full disclosure: One of the members of ACT UP who is featured prominently in the film is my dear friend Spencer Cox. I couldn’t be more proud of him.)
2. Know your stuff. The...