"Tobacco Slave" surpassed over 800 filmmakers to join a shortlist of 60 films with themes ranging from climate change, refugees, tobacco, and gender-based violence for the 5th edition of the WHO Health for All Film Festival.

"Storytelling through film brings a human dimension to WHO’s scientific work and helps us better understand people’s experiences with health," said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "The Health for All Film Festival is an important way to raise awareness on a wide range of health issues, contributing to WHO’s goal to ensure universal access to health as a human right."

"Tobacco Slave" narrates the stories of Malawian farmers, in their own words, as they grow tobacco under the contract system and become entangled in a cycle of debt and poverty. Historians and local experts also delve into the colonial history of the tobacco industry and explore how its business practices have (and have not) changed over the years.

"Tobacco Slave" was supported by the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) at the University of Bath and industry watchdog Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP).

It was directed by award-winning filmmakers Roy Maconachie, Professor of Natural Resources and Development at the University of Bath, and Simon Wharf, a videographer based at the university’s Audio Visual department.

Commenting on the nomination, Professor Maconachie said: “We are really pleased that our film is already receiving international recognition. It has been a great privilege to work with the farmers in Malawi, and to help them tell their complex, but globally-reaching stories. Perhaps like no other medium, film has an unrivalled ability to amplify the voices of the oppressed, to allow them to share their life stories on a much wider stage.”

Commenting on the nomination, Simon Wharf said: "It’s wonderful to be included in this festival run by such a prestigious and important organisation. The film exposes the harsh realities of life as a tobacco farmer in Malawi and I hope it receives lots of interest on the back of this."

In the coming weeks, jurors, including actor Sharon Stone, will review the shortlisted films and recommend seven winners to the WHO Director-General, who will make the final decision. Three “Grand Prix” and four special film prizes will be announced on May 26 at an Awards Ceremony on the eve of the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva.