Award-winning filmmaker presents doc at KPU

Mon, Jan 6, 2014

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – This February, KPU and the Miss Representation Action Group (MRAG) will screen the groundbreaking true story of a group of young people, many of them HIV-positive, who rose up to take on Washington and the medical establishment as champions of those living with AIDS.

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. Using archival footage from the 1980s and '90s, filmmaker David France follows the group of self-made activists who infiltrated the pharmaceutical industry to identify new drugs and move them from experimental trials to patients in record time.

Previously screened as an official selection at Sundance Film Festival, the Academy Award nominee for best documentary feature will be presented at KPU Richmond’s Melville Centre for Dialogue on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The event will include a keynote address by France, as well as a town-hall discussion and Q&A with the director.

"I'm looking forward to meeting the KPU students and faculty who have a keen interest in activism and social justice, and I'm honoured to be speaking on a campus that esteems these values," says France, former Newsweek senior editor and current contributing editor for New York Magazine. He is the author of three books, including Our Fathers, an acclaimed investigation of the Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis, and the New York Times bestseller The Confession, with Governor James E. McGreevey. A Showtime adaptation of Our Fathers was nominated for two Emmys and a Writers Guild of America award.

The event is hosted by MRAG, a KPU-based group of faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members who came together in response to the university’s Miss Representation documentary screening in January 2012. The screening of How to Survive a Plague is the second of the group’s 2013-2014 documentary series, which screens films that focus on media misrepresentations of truths. Each event is meant to continue the discussions that began two years ago about media misrepresentations and societal issues.

"I, along with my co-founder and colleague, Helen Mendes, am thrilled to welcome David France and his film, How to Survive a Plague, to KPU as we continue our 2013-2014 documentary series. Building on the success of our last four events and the 2012-2013 documentary series, the MRAG looks forward to more critical examination of our immediate communities, our world and ourselves," says Janice Morris, co-founder and co-organizer of the MRAG.

The Miss Representation Action Group documentary series aims to foster an interdisciplinary culture of faculty, staff, student and public engagement through the viewing and discussion of documentary film. It also works to sustain what is already an established community of learning and practice at KPU.

The event will run from 4-8:30 p.m. (registration at 3:30). It is free and open to the public, although participants are asked to pre-register as seating is limited. To learn more information about MRAG or to register, please visit, email or contact Janice Morris at

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