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How to Survive a Pandemic


HOW TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC takes an inside look at the historic, multi-national race to research, develop, regulate, and roll out COVID-19 vaccines in the war against the coronavirus pandemic. The documentary began filming in early 2020 as the largest public health effort in history got underway and followed those efforts over the next 18 months, exploring in real time the hard work and collaboration of health agencies worldwide, as well as the political and moral failures of governments to act impartially and equitably.

HOW TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC details the work of researchers in their labs, scientists conducting volunteer trials and science journalists working to stay abreast of the fast-shifting landscape as the coronavirus continued its deadly onslaught. With unparalleled access to world-renowned scientists, the heads of pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and frontline workers, HOW TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC is the definitive chronicle of the most consequential undertaking of the 21st century. It is where towering achievements in science collide with the geopolitical realities of desperation, greed, and nationalism.

The Filmmakers

David France Director

David France is an Oscar-nominated filmmaker, New York Times bestselling author, and award-winning investigative journalist. His directorial debut, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, is hailed as an innovative and influential piece of storytelling and is regularly screened in university classrooms, and by community groups and AIDS service organizations. After a theatrical run in over 30 cities, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE was aired on PBS’ Independent Lens, reaching an audience of millions and garnering Academy and Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award. His 2017 film, THE DEATH & LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON, a Netflix Original Documentary, won numerous festival prizes and was awarded the Outfest “Freedom Award” and a special jury recognition from Sheffield International Documentary Festival. Critics put it on multiple “Best of the Year” lists. David premiered his newest documentary, WELCOME TO CHECHNYA (HBO Max 2020), at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the special jury award for documentary editing, and it received the Panorama Audience Award and Amnesty International Film Prize at 2020 Berlinale. The film was further recognized with a Peabody Award, a BAFTA Award, and the Seigenthaler Prize from RFK Human Rights. It was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking.

Mira Chang Producer

Mira Chang has over two decades of experience in documentary filmmaking, covering an array of topics from international socio political issues, science and history. Her work has taken her around the planet, and has been featured across outlets like PBS, CNN, HBO, Netflix, Amazon, National Geographic, Discovery, A&E, ABC, MTV, VH1 and Sundance. She was a cinematographer for award winning feature documentaries, several Emmy award winning programs for ABC’s long-form news division, and co-directed photography for the Academy Award nominated film JESUS CAMP. As VP of Development and Production at the Emmy and Peabody award-winning company, Show of Force, she developed and produced a slate of film, television, digital and social impact campaigns for issues surrounding girls and women, voting and democracy, climate change and the international refugee crisis. Chang is faculty at the School of Visual Arts MFA program in Social Documentary.


HOW TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC premieres on HBO tonight!


David France's HOW TO SURVIVE A PANDEMIC will premiere on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max tonight at 9pm ET.

Festivals & Awards

Thessaloniki International Film Festival


An impressive feature-length documentary that takes an exclusive look at the vast global effort to research, develop, regulate, and market Covid-19 vaccines in the war against the global pandemic. The film begins in early 2020, when the coronavirus crossed all borders, and follows researchers in their laboratories, as they conduct tests with millions of volunteers and regulators in quarantine offices as deaths rise and political pressure becomes brutal. Continuing throughout 2021, as vaccines show promise, the film describes the stumbling blocks, intense controversy, and systemic injustices that threaten to leave most of the world begging for vaccines – and watching helplessly as more deadly variants develop. With unparalleled access to the most prominent figures in this colossal endeavor, from bench scientists to large pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and front-line workers, this is the historic timeline of the most endearing endeavor of our lives, where vast achievements in science clash with realities of despair, greed, and nationalism.

+ Festival Website



Acclaimed filmmaker David France documents the incredible story of the world’s biggest health science project: the rollout of the corona vaccine. A story we have only just begun to learn from. From the scientists in the lab to the prick in your shoulder. The rollout of the corona vaccine is a triumphant story for science – and a failure for politics. For while the Western world has already got the booster shot, the Global South is lagging behind, with corona still a critical societal problem. The corona vaccine has become a new source of inequality, and in ‘How to Survive a Pandemic’, David France unravels the incredible story with unprecedented access to the US side in particular by the scientists and policy makers behind the biggest health science project in human history. A history that we are only just beginning to learn from for the future.

+ Festival Website


A much-needed dose of inspiration.”

-The Hollywood Reporter

HBO's excellent feature doc How to Survive a Pandemic traces the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines over two years of scientific triumphs and public health nightmares.”


Devastating and uplifting in equal measure.”

-The Wrap

Smart, humane and gripping.”