Hard-hitting US documentary – featuring SA tobacco experts aims to save A Billion Lives

The award-winning documentary feature film A Billion Lives, which has been capturing headlines at international film festivals, including grabbing the Supreme Jury Prize and Best Director awards at the 2016 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, will have its African premiere at the fifth annual Jozi Film Festival on Friday, 16 September at Rosebank’s Cinema Nouveau.

Igniting controversy about how anti-smoking forces are attacking the vaping industry, A Billion Lives exposes how pharmaceutical companies, anti-smoking advocacy groups, tobacco companies, and governments around the world are to blame for the disinformation, over-regulation, and banning of vapour technologies.

The film’s director and executive producer, Aaron Biebert, traveled across four continents to discover why a device that can save so many lives is maligned and discredited in so many countries. After a friend’s untimely death from lung cancer, Aaron began to research smoking addiction, the chances of quitting, and what therapies work. In the midst of this research, Aaron was shocked to discover that a billion people were projected to die from smoking during the current century, and that big business and allied government interests were interfering with the marketing and distribution of an inexpensive, drug-free alternative that scientific studies have shown is successful in the cessation of smoking. Telling this story to the public is what A Billion Lives is all about.

“With smoking rates climbing in Africa faster than the rest of the world, the truth about safer alternatives to cigarettes has never been more important. A billion lives are at risk this century. I am excited and proud to have our African Premiere at Jozi Film Festival. It’s time to get the truth out there before it’s too late.” says director, Aaron Biebert, who will be in Johannesburg for the film’s first screening on the continent.

Also featured in the film are compelling interviews from leading scientists, doctors, technologists, policy makers and health organizations, including two South African doctors:

Dr. Derek Yach – Former Executive Director for the World Health Organization (WHO) and currently Chief Health Officer of the Vitality Institute, an action-oriented global health research organization. Dr. Yach serves on several advisory boards including the Clinton Global Initiative, the World Economic Forum, and the NIH’s Fogarty International Centre.

Dr. Delon Human – Former President of the World Medical Association (WMA) and adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

Over 40 million people worldwide are using vapour technology, with many employing it as a means to successfully quit smoking. But, as the film argues, with billions in profits and taxes at stake, corporate conglomerates and the governments they benefit have created a multi-pronged campaign to poison the global population’s attitude against the use of this innovative technology in an attempt to crush the potentially life-saving emergence of a smoke-free, prescription-free alternative. These acts, in essence, are sentencing a billion people to die needlessly from cigarettes in this century by placing barriers to a low cost, successful substitute.

“We are very proud to be screening this eye-opening and oftentimes shocking film at this year’s festival. Biebert’s documentary ensures that the facts speak for themselves – when you leave the cinema after this film, you will think differently about vaping and the e-cigarette industry.” says JFF’s Lisa Henry.

The trailer is available online here: http://abillionlives.com/you-are-being-lied-to/

The film screens at Rosebank’s Cinema Nouveau on Friday 16 September at 8pm (pre-screening event from 7:00pm, Q&A with the director to follow screening) and again on Sunday 18 September at 5pm. Tickets will be available through Ster Kinekor’s Ticketline.

The Fifth Annual Jozi Film Festival takes place 15-18 September 2016, and will highlight the best in filmmaking, presenting a multi-genre slate of films from emerging and established filmmakers, exploring a broad range of topics that affect our communities and stir our hearts and minds. A line up of South African and international films will be screened over a four-day period at several venues throughout the city: Rosebank’s Cinema Nouveau, The Bioscope Independent Cinema and Eyethu Lifestyle Centre, Soweto.