Arts and Entertainment

An award-winning film shows the power of activism

An alliance of local groups and student organizations will present a screening of the acclaimed new documentary “How to Survive a Plague” at 7 p.m. Friday in the Vashon High School theater.

The film, a 2012 Academy Award nominee for best documentary feature, is the story of two coalitions, ACT UP and TAG (Treatment Action Group), whose members’ activism and innovation addressed the emergence of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s. Their efforts are now widely acknowledged as having saved millions of lives worldwide.

Critics have praised the film highly. David Warren, in Esquire Magazine, called it the best documentary of the year, adding that it was “extraordinarily moving, singular and powerful.” In the The New York Times, Frank Bruni said it chronicled “a model for the here and now of social change.”

Ron Goldberg, a key figure in ACT UP who appears in the film, will be on hand to introduce the documentary and lead a question-and-answer session after it is over. Goldberg will also speak earlier in the day to students at Vashon High School, stressing the role that activism can play in addressing a broad range of social issues.

Goldberg’s appearance at the school and the film presentation are sponsored by VHS Amnesty, the VHS Gay Student Alliance, Partners in Education and the David Serko Project.

The David Serko Project has a significant local connection. The project, headed by Peter Serko, technology director at the Vashon Island School District, is an attempt to tell the story of his brother’s life — a man who was in the front lines of ACT UP demonstrations before his death from AIDS in 1992.

Admission is by donation — bring non-perishable food for the Chicken Soup Brigade.


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