The Minority Health Film Festival, which kicked off yesterday, will feature 50 films on a wide variety of topics — all streamable, Netflix-style, on just about any device through the Milwaukee Film app.
And festival organizers take a pretty broad view of what “health” means.
When describing the festival, organizer Geraud Blanks says, “I say, ‘Look, this ain’t just a festival full of documentaries about diabetes.’”
Blanks, the director of culture and communities for Milwaukee Film, said the festival chose films to help viewers understand health and wellness through the lens of racial and ethnic disparities.
“This is about the social determinants of health,” he said. “That is our guiding principle, our theme. That is the concept that informs this festival. What are the social determinants? What things determine your quality of life, your health and well-being, right? It’s where you live, right? Your environment.”
Blanks said those things don’t come up in the way we think about health and health care.
“We think diet, exercise, genetics. Did my grandfather suffer from diabetes? Did the women in my family have a history of cancer? When we go to the doctor, they ask you all these things,” Blanks said. “But does the doctor ever ask you, ‘How are you dealing with racism?’ Or ‘How are you dealing with sexism?’ Or ‘How are you dealing with someone in your neighborhood getting shot last week and you’re dealing with the trauma?’”
Thinking of health topics so broadly yields a wide variety of films, some fictional, some documentary, some short, some feature length. But all, in one way or another, address systemic racism.
“A lot of people find systemic and structural racism hard to understand. I think if you watch ‘Decade of Fire,’ if you watch ‘Cooked: Survival by Zip Code,’ it’ll help you understand it a little bit better,” Blanks said. “‘Cooked’ is about the 1995 heat wave in Chicago where almost a thousand people died in certain parts of the city. What’s interesting is it really examines what it means for your socioeconomic status to affect your health and wellbeing, depending on where you live. That makes all the difference for whether or not you can survive, the heat waves, or what we saw with Katrina, if you can survive a hurricane.”
The Minority Health Film Festival, now in its second year, offers 50 films to stream for $2.99 each, or by a festival pass for $24.99, which allows unlimited streaming of all films until September 24. Additionally, the festival will feature a series of online panels and talkbacks to address some of the themes of the films, hear from filmmakers and more.
Madison365 is a media sponsor of the Minority Health Film Festival.