Early readers of the Google.org blog may recall us embarking on a film project portraying public health heroes working in the field to eradicate polio. Gone from the modern world, new cases of polio continue to afflict mostly children under age 3 in the poorest regions of just a few countries — India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. When we first announced this project and the collaboration between Google.org and Vermilion Films, filming was underway primarily in India and Afghanistan, documenting the front lines of public health in some forgotten corners of our world.
David Heymann of the World Health Organization reminds us, "When you haven't seen a disease for quite a while, which is the case in the industrialized countries, you forget about the terrible disease that it really is." Polio is such a disease, as it can ruin the lives of children even before they are old enough to understand how to prevent it.
We're proud to announce The Final Inch, a 38-minute film about the historic global effort to eradicate polio. Here, the story told is as much about the messengers as the message. You'll meet Munzareen Fatima, one of the thousands of community "foot soldiers" across India working to sway reluctant families to vaccinate their children, and Dr. Ashfaq Bhat, who travels into the backwaters of India's Ganges Basin by boat and foot to detect emerging cases of polio. Martha Mason and Mikail Davenport bring us into their lives and describe the paralyzing challenges of childhood polio, reminding us how endemic polio once was in the United States.
Filmed in high-definition (HD) in cinematic style — wide open shots to give a strong sense of place — The Final Inch captures their stories, and we hope it is both a tribute and an inspiration of hope. With a final push, this is a disease that can, and should, be eradicated finally.
The Final Inch will air nationally on HBO in 2009. We invite you to check out TheFinalInch.org, where you can view clips from the film and learn more about the people and the organizations tirelessly working on this global effort. You can also check out the film trailer here:
Update on 1/22: The Final Inch received an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Documentary (Short Film). Check out our post on the Google.org blog for more information.
Update on 3/31: The Final Inch is coming to a TV screen near you! You can tune into HBO2 on Wednesday April 1 at 8:00pm (ET/PT) to see our film. It will re-air on April 7 at 7:15pm and is available on HBO on demand. You can check out the full schedule on HBO's website.
Posted by Gregory Miller, Managing Director, Google.org, and Irene Taylor Brodsky, Vermilion Films, Producer and Director of The Final Inch