Nandita Das Joins Global Film and Arts Luminaries to Judge WHO’s 5th Health for All Film Festival, Celebrating Powerful Health Stories

Featured & Cover Nandita Das Joins Global Film and Arts Luminaries to Judge WHO's 5th Health for All Film Festival Celebrating Powerful Health Stories

Nandita Das, a prominent Indian actor, filmmaker, and social advocate, recently participated as a juror for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 5th Health for All Film Festival. This esteemed panel also included actors Sharon Stone and Alfonso Herrera, filmmaker and producer Apolline Traoré, Olympic swimmer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Yusra Mardini, multidisciplinary artist Mário Macilau, and film director Paul Jerndal. The winners were announced on May 26.

Entering its fifth year, the Health for All Film Festival received nearly 1,000 submissions from filmmakers worldwide. These films addressed critical issues such as gender equity, war trauma, burnout, climate change, and healthy aging. A shortlist of 61 films was then evaluated by the distinguished panel of professionals, artists, and activists.

“WHO’s Health for All Film Festival gathers many powerful stories about a variety of health experiences from people from all over the world,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Listening to the stories of people affected by health issues helps us to understand people’s lived experiences and move towards achieving better health for all.”

At the event in Geneva on May 26, awards were presented in seven different categories, with four films receiving special mentions from the jury.

From the official selection at the WHO Health For All Film Festival, a “Grand Prix” was awarded in each of the three main competition categories: Universal Health Coverage, Health Emergencies, and Better Health and Well-Being, reflecting WHO’s Triple Billion Targets. Additionally, four special prizes were awarded for a student-produced film, a film on physical activity and health, a film focusing on migrants and refugees’ health, and a very short film.

This year’s festival saw mental health as a significant theme among the winning entries. One of the standout films was a moving short from France titled “Mom & Me, and that…,” which highlights the emotional and practical challenges faced by a 14-year-old girl living alone with her mother, who is battling cancer.

Nandita Das, who has served twice on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival and has acted in over 40 feature films in 10 different languages, expressed her enthusiasm for being part of the festival. “I am delighted to be a juror for WHO’s Health For All Film Festival,” she said. “Films can create awareness, challenge prejudices, ask uncomfortable questions and tell stories that need to be told. Health is personally and collectively, our right and responsibility. So to celebrate films that focus on these issues is important. I am glad that l have the opportunity to announce the winners of the 5th edition of this annual event.”

Das’s filmography includes notable works such as “Fire,” “Earth,” “Bawandar,” “Kannathil Muthamittal,” “Azhagi,” “Kamli,” and “Before The Rains.” Her directorial debut, “Firaaq,” premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and traveled to over 50 festivals, earning more than 20 awards.

Additionally, Das holds the distinction of being the first Indian to be inducted into the International Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum in Washington, DC. She was recognized in 2011 for her “sustained contributions to the arts and to the world as one of the most gripping cinema arts leaders of our time.”

The WHO Health for All Film Festival continues to serve as a vital platform for highlighting global health issues through the powerful medium of film. This year’s festival reinforced the importance of storytelling in raising awareness and promoting understanding of health challenges worldwide. The diverse array of films and the inclusion of mental health themes reflect a growing recognition of the complex and multifaceted nature of health and well-being. By showcasing these films, the festival not only honors the creativity and dedication of filmmakers but also inspires collective action towards better health outcomes for all.

The festival’s impact extends beyond mere entertainment, encouraging a deeper engagement with pressing health issues and fostering a global conversation about health equity and the shared responsibility to achieve it. The stories told through these films resonate on a personal and universal level, bridging gaps in understanding and compassion. The participation of esteemed jurors like Nandita Das underscores the significance of the festival and its mission to illuminate the myriad health experiences of people around the world.

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