From the producers of Inside Story comes a new feature-length film, The Lucky Specials, combining the best of fiction and non-fiction storytelling to demystify tuberculosis (TB), explaining how it spreads and how it can be treated.
Produced by Discovery Learning Alliance and Quizzical Pictures in association with Tangled Bank Studios with support from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Wellcome Trust, and USAID and PEPFAR through the Leadership, Management and Governance Project, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), The Lucky Specials will entertain and educate audiences across sub-Saharan Africa, while empowering communities to make informed decisions about their health. The film will also be a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action helping audiences across the African continent understand and respond to TB. World Tuberculosis Day was on 24 March 2016.
The Lucky Specials begins in the dark, wet mining shafts of southern Africa, where rock dust and cramped quarters expose workers to various risks. Like HIV, TB is devastating communities across southern Africa in settings like this and others. TB kills more than one million people every year around the world and continues to be the leading cause of death among people living with HIV. Here, audiences meet Mandla, a young man eager to make his mark on African music, played by Oros Mampofu. Other cast members include Blondie Makhene, Sivenathi Mabuya, Richard Lukunku, Thomas Gumede and Fulu Mugovhani; the film is directed by Rea Rangaka.
Through dynamic characters and a captivating storyline, The Lucky Specials replaces misconceptions about TB with facts and shows the journey of TB bacteria inside the body through state-of-the-art animation. By making the film personal, practical and memorable, audiences will retain critical health information in a context that reflects southern African life and values.
“This movie is an unprecedented opportunity to shape how millions of people see, understand and respond to tuberculosis,’ said Aric Noboa, president and executive producer of Discovery Learning Alliance. “We’re thrilled to be back to produce another film with Quizzical Pictures and honoured to work with these world-class partners to entertain audiences while at the same time re-shaping the public dialogue around TB.’
“Innovative thinking and partnerships are crucial to effectively addressing global health challenges,” said Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., US Global AIDS Coordinator and us special representative for Global Health Diplomacy. “The Lucky Specials reimagines how to deliver lifesaving information about TB and HIV to affected communities, empowering individuals to make better informed health decisions.”
“Drug-resistant TB is a major health concern for people living in sub-Saharan Africa,’ said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust. “The need for research into the treatment and prevention of TB, as well as global awareness of the crisis of drug-resistant infection, has never been greater. I hope this film will play an important role in encouraging discussions and increasing understanding of the reality of living with TB, by providing a gripping personal story which explores the impact of the disease. Building on the success of Inside Story, this film will not only bring the science to life, but also offer a relevant and engaging drama to a young mass audience.’
“Through MSH’s extensive work with TB over the years, we have seen the damaging role of stigma along with the urgent need for increased TB awareness. This film is a novel step to reach people with critical information in a time when it is more important than ever,’ said Dr. Jonathan Quick, president and CEO of MSH. “Through partnerships like this one, and by continuing to implement critical interventions, we can together take huge steps to end TB.’
A comprehensive rollout of The Lucky Specials will include theatrical film screenings, national television broadcasts and grassroots distribution by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, and governments. Facilitator guides and educational materials are being developed for community and public health organizations and schools to help reinforce messages. A dedicated website will help expand the reach of film content to online audiences.
For more information about the film, visit The Lucky Specials website.