For those who believe in the power of film to change the world, the Broadway has a treat in store for you later this month. For on 19 June, for one night only, the Letchworth Broadway is hosting an event that lifts the lid off the scandal of formula baby milk and how international corporations are exploiting developing nations – and killing babies in the process.
Films that change lives
Because sometimes a film is just a film. And sometimes it is much more than that. Sometimes a film tells a story so shocking, so direct that it can cut through public indifference and bring about change. Sometimes it is a mainstream film with a big name star, like Victim (1961) starring Dirk Bogarde or Philadelphia (1993) with Tom Hanks. Both these films helped change attitudes towards gay people.
Other times, it is more niche, factual. Good examples of this genre include Super-Size Me, a comic-documentary looking at the effects of od'ing on the products of the amiable Ronald McDonald and the much darker A Girl in the River, which is a short documentary about honour killings and which led, directly, to a change of heart on the part of the Prime Minister of Pakistan
And sitting somewhere between the two is Tigers, a drama documentary highlighting in heart-breaking fashion how Nestlé, one of the world’s largest corporations is complicit in the untimely death, every year, of hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of babies worldwide through its irresponsible approach to the sale of formula milk.
An evening of film - and hard questions
The film, which I review over on EyeforFilm, tells the true story of a Pakistani salesman, employed by “LastaVita”, who learns that his promotion of baby formula to doctors is causing babies to die. It is about what happens when he blows the whistle: but it is also about how difficult it is to get such stories out into the open. The difficulties of making a film, when the object of your film-making employs some of the fiercest lawyers in the world.
And even when you have made the film, how difficult it is to get it out into the public arena. Tigers is now receiving a limited release in the UK through showings in independent cinemas this year. But what you will see if you come along on the 19 June is a film that is yet to obtain a release in India, where, objectively, these issues are massive. And the problem explored is one that just keeps on coming back. From Africa in the 70s to the Indian sub-continent in the 90's and since, denial kills.
And because the Broadway is not just any old cinema, this showing comes with an opportunity to explore the issues further. Also there to take part in an audience Q&A session after will be co-writer and producer Andy Paterson and Patti Rundall, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, who also appears as a character in the film.
Yes. Sometimes a film is just a film. But Tigers is much more than that and if you come along and watch it and take part in the session after, you will understand why.
If you would like to read more about the background to this film, check out this interview with Tigers Director Denis Tanovic.