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Health Film Festival; an Opportunity for Global Health Diplomacy

By: Dr. Weam Banjar; Researcher


The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized films as a powerful tool to disseminate health information, document health-related historical events, promote health and raise awareness, improve understanding, shape public perception, encourage positive behavior, and construct health-related narratives. WHO concluded the 2024 cycle of the “Health for All” Film Festival (HAFF) during the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA-77). HAFF set an example of the global impact of films, with participants from 110 countries submitting their work, which shed light on three main categories: universal health coverage, emergencies, migrants and refugees’ health, and mental and physical health. Additionally, two special prizes focusing on specific categories are determined annually.

Saudi Arabia has recognized soft power as a public diplomatic tool that utilizes culture to reflect Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting and promoting population safety and global health security, which in turn positively influences the country’s competitiveness at a global level. The Ministry of Culture established the Saudi Film Commission to create an innovation-friendly ecosystem that supports the filming industry in Saudi Arabia and positions the country as a hub for filmmakers, filming professionals, and investors. Since the commission’s establishment, Saudi Arabia has hosted the Red Sea Film Festival, Joy Awards, and Saudi Film Festival. These festivals are powerful networking sessions and present opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborative activities.

At the cusp of Saudi Arabia’s transformation program, the health sector’s dynamics present rich material for the filming and art industries. Professionals can participate in health film festivals at both the competition and jury levels, thus introducing the global community to progress in Saudi Arabia and opening doors for collaborative production. Furthermore, Saudi materials should be able to reflect progress and create a mosaic of the present that interacts with the past and future. Hosting a health film festival is an opportunity for health professionals to bring global health concerns to the table and establish a dialogue on global security. Presenting health concerns through films may serve to approximate different views and create a coalition toward safer global health.


Join the Conversation!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the role of films in promoting global health awareness. Have you attended any health-related film festivals or seen a film that had a significant impact on your understanding of health issues? Share your experiences and insights in the comments below! Your voice matters and contributes to a richer dialogue on the intersection of health, culture, and cinema. Let’s discuss how we can further harness the power of films to create a healthier world for everyone.

Weam Banjar

Author Weam Banjar

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