MEXICO CITY, Mexico – (PAHO/WHO) – Films that reflect on health and health challenges are being shown this week in Mexico City as part of the “Cinema and Health” festival, organized by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).
The festival will showcase 11 short films from countries in the Americas nominated for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Health for All” Film Festival, as well as productions by Mexican directors that address health and wellness issues, supported by the Mexican Institute of Cinematography (IMCINE).
“Cinema invites us to reflect on emotions. Storytelling is as old as human civilization. It inspires, motivates, creates empathy and helps us find and share solutions together,” PAHO director, Dr Jarbas Barbosa, said during the opening of the festival.
“Movies enable us to collect stories about actions for global health and can encourage behavior change by providing knowledge, motivation or skills needed to motivate people to act,” he added.
The short films address diverse topics, such as the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease in patients in Mexico, the efforts of healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, a historic expedition to bring smallpox vaccine to the Americas in the 19th century, and the complex challenges faced by people battling cancer and mental illness.
The festival takes place from October 25 to 27, 2023 at the Linterna Mágica Cinema, an emblematic space that began operating in 1964, but reopened its doors in January 2023 after years of closure and a recent remodeling.
“It is a real honour that the first film festival shown at the Linterna Mágica has been inaugurated by the director of PAHO, a multilateral organization that predates even the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the IMSS,” said IMSS director Zoé Robledo, referring to the 120 years since the creation of PAHO.
“Let’s keep going to the movies, movies that make us think or reflect,” she added, emphasizing the key role that cinema has played in raising awareness and driving transformation in social and health issues in the country.
The film festival includes presentations by directors, question and answer sessions with experts, as well as debates to facilitate conversations and involve the public in actions to promote good health.
The festival fulfills the IMSS objective associated with the reopening of the Magic Lantern cinema: to broadcast short films, auteur, and cult films, and to have film education activities, promoting health through cultural activities.
The festival also provided an opportunity to announce the 5th WHO “Health for All” Film Festival, which will open its call for short films from November 1, 2023 until January 31, 2024.
The WHO Health for All Film Festival, which has been organized annually since 2020, has received more than 4,300 short films from 110 countries. Its catalog currently includes nearly 300 titles that can contribute to improving the health of people around the world.
PAHO and WHO invite public health institutions from around the world, non-governmental organizations, communities, public health activists and students, film schools and other relevant fields to submit their original short films that address a health issue. Independent filmmakers, production companies and television broadcasters are also invited to participate.