Above: The official trailer for "How To Survive a Plague," a documentary about AIDS activists in the '80s and '90s by filmmaker David France.
The Delaware County town of Middletown may get the chance to root for one of its own at the upcoming Oscars in February. A documentary by David France, a part-time New Kingston resident who owns the iconic Galli-Curci Theatre building on Main Street in Margaretville with his partner Jonathan Starch, has just been named to a shortlist of 15 films that will be considered for Oscar glory.
It's not the first honor for "How To Survive A Plague," a documentary about the AIDS activists of ACT-UP and TAG who pushed successfully in the '80s and '90s to make the epidemic a public health priority. The film was an official selection at Sundance 2012, and won Best Documentary at the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards in November.
On Monday, the film took the prize for Best Debut Film at the New York Film Critics' Circle Awards, the first documentary ever to do so. The New York Times's Carpetbagger blog writes:
Its first announced award didn’t disappoint...“How to Survive a Plague,” about the rise of the AIDS advocacy group Act Up, earned best debut film, besting the expected winner, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” It’s the first documentary to take home that prize from the circle. It also earned best documentary at the Gothams, and the Bagger has been hearing constant praise for it from movie-industry players, so expect it to make a showing all season long.
CNN reports that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences's Documentary Branch sifted through a list of 126 documentaries to find the 15 gems that will be considered for the Oscar nominee list. From those 15, five nominees will be chosen in January.
The last time a local documentary filmmaker ended up on the red carpet at the Oscars, the moment made headlines -- but not in a good way. In 2010, Roxbury's Roger Ross Williams endured a "Kanye moment" while accepting the Oscar for his film "Music By Prudence," when producer Elinor Burkett jumped on stage and interrupted his speech. We're hoping France takes top prize -- and with a little less drama.
Correction, 12/6: France and Starch live part-time in New Kingston -- not, as a previous draft implied, in Margaretville. And Margaretville is a village, not a town. Sheesh. You'd think living in New Kingston ourselves that we'd keep track of these things.