One of Dean LaVeist’s goals is to increase the school’s interaction with the community by hosting more public events in the Tidewater Building. In May the school took the first big leap in doing this by premiering the Public Health Film Festival of New Orleans.
Over the course of three days, the festival shared a collection of ten powerful feature-length and short films, with moderated panels of filmmakers, public health experts, and affected community members. The films shown highlighted topics that ranged from gun violence to reproductive rights, veterans’ health to HIV/AIDS, and more.
The festival was a collaboration between the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and 102.3 FM WHIV. The aim of the festival was to foster discussions on a variety of health issues while honoring filmmakers who advocate for much-needed change.
Highlights of the festival include a screening of Period. End of Sentence, documentary short about menstruation in rural India. The film was co-produced by Avery Siegel, a Tulane University undergraduate student majoring in communications with a minor in public health. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short this year.
The Nigerian films 93 Days was also included in the line-up. The film is a dramatic retelling of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, in particular the response and experience at a hospital in Nigeria. The film includes the near-death experience of Dr. Adaora Okoli, Tulane SPHTM MPH alumna and doctoral student. Okoli attended the screening, marking the first time she had seen the film. She participated in the panel following the presentation.
The festival encountered one serious challenge: New Orleans experienced a significant rain event early in the morning of the last day, which led to flooding in the Tidewater building. Most films were canceled for that final day, with one relocated to an alternate location in the afternoon. The school intends to hold individual screenings for the postponed films, which includes Dean LaVeist’s feature documentary, The Skin You’re In.
Plans are underway for next year’s film festival.