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David France  

Director of Oscar-nominated documentary "How to Survive a Plague"; Award-winning Journalist, Best-selling Author

Filmmaker David France is the director and co-writer of the Oscar-nominated and critically-acclaimed, How to Survive a Plague, the documentary about the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The film earned him The John Schlesinger Award (given to a first-time documentary or narrative feature filmmaker) from the Provincetown International Film Festival. He is also a best-selling author and an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in national publications, such as New York magazine, Newsweek, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and GQ. He has appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss the scientific basis that homosexuality is genetic. France is an ideal keynote speaker for colleges and universities, corporate diversity in the workplace programs, gay and lesbian conferences and events, AIDS conferences, and film and journalism schools.

How to Survive a Plague premiered as an official selection at Sundance Film Festival and made many year-end Best Films lists: Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Time, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Slate, and the New York Times. France was hailed as the best new filmmaker of 2012 by the International Documentary Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Film Critics, and Boston Online Film Critics, among others.

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. Faced with their own mortality an improbable group of young people, many of them HIV-positive young men, broke the mold as radical warriors taking on Washington and the medical establishment. 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. With unfettered access to a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival footage from the 1980s and ’90s, 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.

A veteran journalist, France is a contributing editor for New York magazine and was senior investigative editor at Newsweek until 2003. He is also the author of critically-acclaimed, best-selling books. Our Fathers, an investigation into the Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis, was published to critical acclaim and was adapted by Showtime for a film of the same name. The film received Emmy nominations and a Writers Guild of America Award. The Confession, which he wrote with the former Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey, was a New York Times best seller. In addition to Our Fathers, other films have been developed from his work: Thanks of a Grateful Nation, a controversial Showtime miniseries about the first Gulf War; the Peabody Award winner Soldier’s Girl, about a private’s murder.

A 2007 article France wrote for GQ, “Dying to Come Out: The War On Gays in Iraq”, won a GLAAD Media Award. He spent a year with the family of a boy who committed suicide and undertook a forensic approach in an article about it for the Ladies’ Home Journal. The piece, entitled “Broken Promises”, which he wrote with Diane Salvatore, won a Mental Health America ‘Excellence in Mental Health Journalism’ award in 2008.

Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, France now lives in New York City and the Catskills, in upstate New York.

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Speech Topics


How to Survive a Plague: Screening, Lecture, and Discussion

The Legacy of ACT UP: How AIDS Went from a Death Sentence to a Manageable Condition

Gay Diversity in the Workplace: What Employers and Employees Need to Know About Homosexuality

Our Fathers: The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal

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