A First Look at "The Lucky Specials": A Movie Demystifying TB

A First Look at "The Lucky Specials": A Movie Demystifying TB

{Photo Credit: Matt Martin/MSH}Photo Credit: Matt Martin/MSH


On Friday, October 28, during the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health, the Leadership, Management and Governance (LMG) Project, implemented by MSH, hosted an advance screening from The Lucky Specials, a movie demystifying TB. Accompanying the exclusive movie clips and animations, a dynamic panel discussion featured Catharine Taylor, Vice President, MSH; Aric Noboa, Producer, President, Discovery Learning Alliance; Laura Helft, PhD, Senior Science Researcher, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Allison Russel, MBBCh, Treatment Advisor, USAID RHAP; and moderator Rudi Thetard, Senior Technical Lead Infectious Diseases, MSH.

Lucky Specials Trailer

How do you reach an audience that varies from the hyper-connected urbanite to the remote villager? It's taken a community of organizations—MSH, DLA, HHMI, Wellcome Trust, and USAID/PEPFAR—to produce The Lucky Specials. Together, these organizations strive to reach a broader audience and entertain viewers, while shedding light on the TB epidemic. In many communities, TB is still a stigmatizing disease. "People often don't come forward with TB because of the stigma associated with taking a test," said Allison Russel. This film is meant to remove those barriers and enable those infected to be tested and treated.

Noboa spoke about assembling the team, important details in the film's production, and the health impact his previous production, Inside Story, has had on communities and countries. Premiering in Tanzania this month, Inside Story is currently recognized as the most widely viewed film across South Africa.

Scene from the Lucky Specials

The TB community has consistently worked with the public to close the knowledge and awareness gap—and this film is intended as a tool to support their efforts. The Lucky Specials can make a tremendous difference among key audiences—for young men who rarely go for health services; for young women, also vulnerable to stigma, who will benefit from the film's strong female role model. The Lucky Specials acknowledges the fact that TB and HIV often go hand-in-hand yet are independent, and it will hopefully reduce stigma.

The Lucky Specials is purposely based in South Africa, where TB is an epidemic and has increased 400 percent in the past 15 years. One percent of its population develops active TB each year.

A valuable part of any health system is the broader community it services—and creative media, such as feature films with educational health content, can likely reach more people than other awareness efforts. In many of the countries where MSH works, health literacy in general is quite low—film represents an engaging way for people to find out what they need to know to protect them and get treated.

Scene from The Lucky Specials

Approximately 150 TB professionals at the Union Conference on Lung Health attended The Lucky Specials event, including key personnel from the South African Department of Health, the US Military HIV Research Program, the KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation, USAID mission representatives from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, and sub-Saharan African National TB Program representatives.

Distribution of The Lucky Specials is vital to sharing its important messages. The film will be premiered in countries across Africa in the next several months, and availability will be made possible through a free download in mid-2017. To receive distribution updates, please contact Nathene Morley.

More information on this event

Updates on the release of The Lucky Specials

Marnina Cowan also contributed to this post.


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