David France (writer)

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David France
Joy Tomchin - David France (14269511906).jpg
Joy Tomchin (l) and David France (r) at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards, May 2014.
Born 1959 (age 58–59)
Nationality American
Occupation Investigative reporter
Notable work How to Survive a Plague (2012 film, 2016 book)
Website www.davidfrance.com

David France is an American investigative reporter, non-fiction author, and filmmaker. He is a contributing editor for New York magazine,[1] a former Newsweek senior editor, and has published in The New Yorker,[2] The New York Times Magazine, GQ,[3] and others. France, who is gay,[4] is best known for his investigative journalism on LGBT topics.[4]


Literary background and books[edit]

France is the author of four books, including Our Fathers, a book about the Catholic sexual abuse scandal in the United States. The book was adapted by Showtime for a film by the same name, which received Emmy Award nominations and a Writers Guild of America award. The Confession, which he wrote with former Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey, was a New York Times best seller, debuting at #3 in nonfiction hardcover sales and #1 in biography.[5]

How to Survive a Plague[edit]

His fourth book, How to Survive a Plague, published in 2016, is considered "the definitive book on AIDS activism."[6] It won the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize,[7] was longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence,[8] named to numerous best-of and top-ten lists, was a New York Times 100 Notable Books for 2016,[9] and was one of the best-reviewed books of the year. "Powerful...This superbly written chronicle will stand as a towering work in its field, the best book on the pre-treatment years of the epidemic since Randy Shilts’s And The Band Played On… Most of the people to whom it bears witness are not around to read it, but millions are alive today thanks to their efforts, and this moving record will ensure their legacy does not die with them." –Sunday Times[10]

France had been reporting on the U.S. AIDS epidemic since its early years, having moved from Kalamazoo, Michigan,[4] to New York City in June 1981,[4][11] just 2 weeks before the first newspaper report about the disease appeared in The New York Times[11] and living in the epicenter of the East Coast epidemic through its first decade,[4] losing his boyfriend of 5 years to AIDS in 1991.[4] In 2012, France's documentary film How to Survive a Plague, about the early years of the U.S. AIDS epidemic, was released.[12] France took a more "intimate" narrative approach, making use of a wide range of archive footage from the height of the American AIDS crisis.[4] He expanded on the documentary film with a book released on World AIDS Day in 2016.[13]

For the film, France received The John Schlesinger Award (given to a first time documentary or narrative feature filmmaker) from the Provincetown International Film Festival, the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award from the International Documentary Association,[14] and the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best First Film,[15] the group's first time to honor a documentary filmmaker. The film was nominated for an Academy Award,[4][16] a Directors Guild Award,[17] an Independent Spirit Award,[18] and two Emmys,[19] and won a Peabody Award[20][21] a Gotham Award,[22] and a GLAAD award.[21]

Periodicals and television[edit]

A 2007 article France wrote for GQ, Dying to Come Out: The War On Gays in Iraq, won a GLAAD Media Award.[23] 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.[citation needed] The piece, entitled "Broken Promises", which he wrote with Diane Salvatore, won a Mental Health America 'Excellence in Mental Health Journalism' award in 2008.[24]

On June 2, 2007, France appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss the scientific basis that homosexuality is genetic.[25]

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson[edit]

In 2017 he released the documentary The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson, which he directed. The film portrayed the life of Marsha P. Johnson, a prominent rights activist in the 1970s and 1980s.[26][27][28] The film also includes an investigation into her death.[29] It was acquired by Netflix in June 2017.[30]

In October 2017, trans activist Reina Gossett alleged David France used her work to create The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, which debuted 6 October 2017 via Netflix. France denied the allegation. An independent investigation in Jezebel backed France's case.[31][32][33] A second investigation, in The Advocate, found the charge to be baseless.[34] The film went on to win numerous festival awards[35] and positive reviews—96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.[36]


  1. ^ "David France New York magazine articles". New York magazine. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "David France New Yorker articles". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  3. ^ France, David. "David France GQ articles". GQ. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Halterman, Jim (February 21, 2013). "Filmmaker David France talks How To Survive a Plague". Edge.
  5. ^ "Ex-N.J. 'Gay Governor' James E. McGreevey's Book a Best Seller". Fox News. Associated Press. September 28, 2006.
  6. ^ Baker, Jeff (November 30, 2016). "'How to Survive a Plague,' by David France". San Francisco Chronicle.
  7. ^ Alison Flood (16 November 2017). "Baillie Gifford prize goes to Aids chronicle How to Survive a Plague". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence: Longlist 2017". American Library Association. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2016". The New York Times. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  10. ^ Thring, Oliver (December 11, 2016). "Books: How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids by David France". The Times.
  11. ^ a b France, David (December 1, 2016). How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS. Pan Macmillan. p. PT14. ISBN 978-1-5098-3941-4. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  12. ^ Bernstein, Jacob (December 12, 2012). "A Story of AIDS, From the Beginning". The New York Times. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  13. ^ How to Survive a Plague at Google Books
  14. ^ "Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award: David France". International Documentary Association. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  15. ^ "2012 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  16. ^ "Oscar-nominated doc How to Survive a Plague to become ABC miniseries". The Hollywood Reporter. February 28, 2013.
  17. ^ "How to Survive a Plague up for Directors Guild award". BBC News Online. January 15, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  18. ^ "How to Survive a Plague". Film Independent Spirit Awards. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  19. ^ "PBS leads networks in news Emmy nominations". Current. July 22, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  20. ^ "Independent Lens: How to Survive a Plague". Peabody Awards. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  21. ^ a b Townsend, Megan (April 3, 2014). "Peabody Awards honor several LGBT-inclusive films and series including Orphan Black, Orange is the New Black, How to Survive a Plague and more". GLAAD. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  22. ^ Brooks, Brian (November 27, 2012). "Moonrise Kingdom, How to Survive a Plague, Beasts win Gothams". Movieline. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  23. ^ "19th Annual GLAAD Media Award recipients". GLAAD. Retrieved 2013-12-04.
  24. ^ "Mental Health America 2008 Media Awards Recognize Excellence in Mental Health Journalism". Mental Health America. June 6, 2008. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  25. ^ Colbert Report interview. June 26, 2007.
  26. ^ Noel Murray (October 3, 2017). "The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson is more than just another true-crime documentary". The A.V. Club. The United States. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  27. ^ Ken Jaworowski (October 5, 2017). "The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson is more than just another true-crime documentary". The New York Times. New York City, New York State, The United States. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  28. ^ "'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson' review: Gay rites". NJ.com. New Jersey, The United States. October 6, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  29. ^ "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson Is a Shattering Documentary". Vulture. The United States. October 5, 2017. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  30. ^ Clayton Davis (June 3, 2017). "Netflix Acquires David France's 'The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson'". Awards Circuit. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  31. ^ Weiss, Suzannah (October 8, 2017). ""The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson" Creator Accused of Stealing Work from Filmmaker Reina Gossett". Teen Vogue. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  32. ^ Marotta, Jenna (October 7, 2017). "Netflix Doc 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson': Did Director David France Steal a Filmmaker's Research?". IndieWire. Retrieved October 8, 2017.
  33. ^ "Who Owns Marsha P. Johnson's Story?". Jezebel. October 13, 2017.
  34. ^ Ennis, Dawn (January 23, 2018). "Inside the Fight for Marsha P. Johnson's Legacy". Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  35. ^ "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson Awards". Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  36. ^ "Reviews for The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson". Retrieved April 3, 2018.

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