“How to Survive a Plague” looks at the efforts of ACT UP, a group that helped publicize the medical crisis of AIDS. (From Donna Binder/Sundance Selects)
Academy Awards
Documentaries on heart disease and AIDS are among Oscar nominees
‘How to Survive a Plague,’ ‘Open Heart’

Among the Oscar nominees announced last week are two documentaries that focus on health issues. “How to Survive a Plague,” nominated in the Feature Documentary category, tells the story of the AIDS epidemic of the mid-1980s. The film looks at the efforts of the activist group ACT UP, whose members staged protests, immersed themselves in HIV research and helped draw media and government attention to the medical crisis. “Open Heart,” one of the Short Documentary nominees, tells the story of eight Rwandan children suffering from rheumatic heart disease, the result of untreated strep throat. It follows their journey to Sudan for high-risk open-heart surgery at Africa’s only free, state-of-the-art cardiac hospital. The Academy Awards will be televised Feb. 26.

Medical thriller puts a modern twist on the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
“Do No Harm,” premieres Jan. 31

A brilliant neurosurgeon wrestling with his dangerous alter ego is the lead character in a new medical thriller on NBC. “Do No Harm,” premiering Thursday, tells the story of Jason Cole, a successful, charming doctor with a sinister secret. Each night, his consciousness is taken over by an alternate personality who goes by the name Ian Price. Price, a devious sociopath prone to violence, is the Mr. Hyde to Cole’s Dr. Jekyll. For years, Cole suppressed his alter ego using experimental drugs. But when the drugs stop working, Price is free and determined to get revenge on Cole for keeping him locked away in the depths of his brain. According to previews of the show, the series will include salacious scenes of orgies, along with shopping sprees. But the main story line is set in the hospital where Cole works, as Price threatens to destroy Cole’s career and relationships.

Maggie Fazeli Fard