Poem to encourage breast cancer screening shortlisted for international film award

News article 22 Apr 2024
‘Four X-rays could save your life' has been shortlisted for the Very Short Film prize at the World Health Organization’s Health For All Film Festival.

An innovative, informative and humorous short film that encourages women to attend routine breast cancer screenings in Liverpool has been shortlisted for an international film award.

‘Four X-rays could save your life' has been shortlisted for the Very Short Film prize at the World Health Organization’s Health For All Film Festival.  

This film forms part of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine’s Health Equity Liverpool Project (HELP), a community-led programme tackling health inequities across the city.

This work has been funded by Liverpool City Council Public Health Department and the Arts and Humanities Research Council and is delivered in partnership with Capacity Development International, the Infection Innovation Consortium: iiCON, Primary Care Networks and community organisations. It involves establishing and supporting Community Innovation Teams, made up of community stakeholders, primary care providers and creatives. Teams have developed data-informed, creative health messages targeting underserved communities, building trust and addressing misinformation on public health issues.

The film short, commissioned by Anfield & Everton Community Innovation Team, shows Liverpool actress Eithne Brown reading a poem written by local creative Leonisha Barley. The poem addresses women’s deep founded fears about mammograms, describes what to expect during the breast cancer screening process and explains the benefits of mammography. The film is being shared on social media, as well as being screened across local community venues, GP surgeries and primary health care centres in North Liverpool to help improve breast cancer screening rates, where uptake is well below the national average of 62%.

Dr Simon Abrams, GP and Lead of the Anfield & Everton Community Innovation Team, said: “We are committed to tackling stubborn health inequalities that affect Everton and Anfield. By working with our community stakeholders and local creatives, we have adopted a more personalised and localised approach.”

More than 900 filmmakers from 110 countries submitted short films for the 5th edition of the WHO Health for All Film Festival on themes ranging from climate change, refugees, tobacco, and gender-based violence. The Everton and Anfield film has been recognised as one of 61 shortlisted for awards on a range of global health issues. Films will be judged by a jury of international artists and health experts – including Academy Award-nominated actor Sharon Stone and winners announced on 26 May on the eve of the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Professor Miriam Taegtmeyer, lead researcher on HELP at LSTM, said: “We are tremendously honoured to have been recognised by the WHO alongside other projects combating the health challenges of our time. The ‘four x-rays could save your life’ film is a great example of how innovative, community-led approaches can help strengthen relationships between primary care providers and local people.”

Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health at Liverpool City Council, said: “It’s really exciting for a film created here in Liverpool to be recognised by the World Health Organisation. This short film delivers a powerful message on the importance of breast screening and self checking, with a distinctly Liverpool approach. This exciting nomination is testament to the important work that our stakeholders are doing within our communities.”

Bob Blanchard, CEO of Breckfield and North Everton Neighbourhood Council, a community organisation involved in the project that helped to test the poem with local people, said: “To have our work shortlisted for the WHO Health for All Festival awards means a lot to our community. We worked hard but gained so much in delivering the programme to women aged 50 to 70 years. The poem enabled women to relax, and in dispelling any fears and anxiety that women in our community had it helped bring women together in sharing experiences in a fun, supportive and informative way.”

The 61 shortlisted films can be watched in four YouTube playlists available on the Health for All Film Festival website, one for each of the competition categories: universal health coverage; emergencies, refugee and migrant health; better health and physical activity, and very short films. The public is encouraged to view and comment on their favourite shortlisted films and champion them on social media using the hashtag #Film4Health.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Storytelling through film brings a human dimension to WHO’s scientific work and helps us to better understand people’s experiences with health.

“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.”

The public is encouraged to choose one of the films they would like to champion and comment on it.  Comments can be posted on their social media using #Film4Health or directly to the YouTube video. Some comments from the public will be featured during the HAFF virtual Awards Ceremony at the end of May.