Global | Film Festival to Shine Spotlight on Health Costs of Coal

International health and environmental advocates will host a mini festival of award-winning short films that highlight the health and social effects of coal. As part of the festival, the Healthy Energy Initiative will be presenting three short films produced by its partners in Australia, the Philippines, and South Africa. Other films will explore coal development in Russia and China. Together, these are some of the largest coal-producing countries in the world.

The December 7th Paris event coincides with the second week of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP21). As world leaders and civil society stakeholders gather to formulate an international climate agreement, the Cost of Coal Film Festival will shine a light on the human faces affected by coal development, promote cultural exchange, and show the world that the human cost of coal necessitates its rapid phase-out. Not only is coal a major source of greenhouse gases, it has lasting impacts on the health of vulnerable and indigenous populations.

Please join us in Paris for the Cost of Coal Film Festival on December 7th, or participate virtually by viewing the films online. For more information and to RSVP (optional), visit

Learn more about the Healthy Energy Initiative films below:

“The Big Show” — by Health Care Without Harm-Asia (Philippines)

2015.11.23 Cost of Coal_1“The Big Show” provides an overview of the health impacts as perceived by local citizens in towns hosting coal-fired power plants. But the health effects of coal do no stop in the community – the Philippines is now one of the world’s countries most vulnerable to climate change. Unfortunately, the irony is that the Philippines is still yet to cut its addiction to coal, which is climate change’s leading driver.

The film then highlights the country’s largely untapped renewable energy potential – and the demand from the people for a renewable energy transition. The documentary ends with health sector leaders calling for the promotion of healthy energy – even one hospital ‘walking the talk’ by installing solar energy systems – a premiere to the new ‘big show’ that puts human health and the health sector at the center of the climate and energy discourse.

The team that developed the film included Adi Bontuyan (director; winner of the Special Jury Prize for the short film “Taya” at the 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival, Manila), Roniel Conise (writer), as well as HCWH-Asia’s Dr. Renzo Guinto, Ann Lustresano, and Dianne Mendoza.

“Do No Harm” — by Health Care Without Harm (International)

2015.11.23 Do No HarmAs a companion to “The Big Show,” Health Care Without Harm will also be presenting “Do No Harm,” which portrays with compelling and beautiful animation the history of how a global movement has emerged amongst doctors, nurses, hospitals and other health care providers to engage at a global scale in actions to protect health and the environment – particularly to address climate change. The filmmaking team included Nicole Newnham, independent documentary filmmaker (“The Revolutionary Optimists” / “The Rape of Europa”); Louis Fox, co-founder of Free Range Studios and director of “The Story of Stuff”; and award-winning animator Jossie Malis of Zumbakamera. Dr. Aparna Bole, pediatrician and HCWH Board member, serves as narrator and is the model for the animation.

“The Human Cost of Power” — by the Climate and Health Alliance (Australia)

HumanCostofPower_ThumbProduced by Fiona Armstrong, an executive director of the Climate and Health Alliance, and directed by award winning science journalist Alexandra de Blas, this film explores the health impacts associated with the massive expansion of coal and unconventional gas in Australia.

The film features respected health and medical experts: Associate Professor Linda Selvey, Associate Professor Ruth Colaguiri, Dr Mariann Lloyd Smith, and Dr George Crisp. It draws on new reports and evidence which offer fresh insights into the risks posed to human health by the production of these energy resources.

The Human Cost of Power has received a lot of attention internationally, featuring in a session at the Global Climate and Health Summit held in parallel with the United Nations global climate talks in Warsaw in November, as well as at the international Health Impact Assessment conference.

The film has also been selected to screen, in competition, at the Think Forward Film Festival in Venice in December 2013.

“The Bliss of Ignorance” — by groundWork (South Africa)

2015.11.23 BlissThrough first-hand testimony The Bliss of Ignorance investigates South Africa’s complex relationship with one of the country’s most abundant resources: coal.

With experts predicting the creation of a “sick” generation in the Mpumalanga region (which is home to 12 of the world’s largest power stations), this documentary looks at the impact of South Africa’s energy policy – particularly the support for Eskom’s coal-fired power stations – on public health. In February 2015 energy giants Eskom were granted five years grace from complying with atmospheric emission standards, making this film ever more timely and relevant.

Set against the wider climate change debate, The Bliss of Ignorance highlights how the mining and burning of coal affects the environment; polluting air and valuable water resources in a water-scarce country. In 2012, 17,000 people in Carolina, Mpumalanga were left without water because their local supply was polluted by acid mine drainage.

“The Bliss of Ignorance” is a SourcedTV production for groundWork and Friends of the Earth, directed by Simon Waller. The documentary has won the International Award of Outstanding Excellence for Documentary Short at the International Film Festival (Environment, Health and Culture), and the Platinum Award for International Documentary at the World Film Awards.

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