Watch out Hollywood, 2011 Was a Great Year for Global Health Film

It’s a good time to be a global health enthusiast and a film lover. And that’s not only because of the release of Contagion — the critically acclaimed Hollywood blockbuster about infectious disease — earlier this year.

Though Contagion was probably the most high-profile global health film this year, several other global health-focused films were either released in 2011 or featured at film festivals or special screenings.

Here are some examples of what 2011 has brought us so far:

– The Global Health Conference, held last month in Montreal, Canada, included two film screenings in its program

-The Fast Forward Health Film Festival debuted during the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Washington, DC

– In October, a Yale School of Public Health grad was awarded the Tuberculosis Survival Prize for a documentary he produced about TB in South African miners

– Back in May, Christy Turlington Burns’ film about maternal mortality had its TV debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network

– Yale’s Global Health Institute held a film festival featuring seven documentaries

– The feature documentary, “The Shot Felt ‘Round The World” was shown at this year’s Napa Valley Film Festival

Of course, movies exploring global health issues aren’t a new thing. Before there was Contagion, there was Outbreak (though the science behind Outbreak wasn’t nearly as solid as the research that went into Contagion). And pressing global health issues, such as HIV/AIDS, have captured the attention of documentary film makers before — remember The Lazarus Effect?

But there does seem to be an uptick — at least over the last five years or so — in the use of film as a medium to explore these issues. With interest in global health on college campuses and beyond exploding, I think we’ll see this trend endure in 2012.