Webinar Overview: SELFISH Documentary: Lived Experiences of Humanitarian Workers”

Throughout the summer, our Global Mental Health Undergraduate Summer Interns have written summaries of various lectures and webinars they attended. Below is the last webinar overview in this series. Thank you to all of our summer interns!

On Wednesday July 14th, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative hosted a panel titled “SELFISH Documentary: Lived Experiences of Humanitarian Workers,” an installation in its Social Impact in Humanitarianism Webinar Series. Panelists included Stéphane Santini, director of the documentary SELFISH (ÉGOÏSTE), Laurence Hoenig, head of Creative Content Unit at Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) Switzerland, and Chahinaz Tabikh, Mental Health Supervisor at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Lebanon. The event was moderated by Irini Albanti, the Executive Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.

The documentary film was created in partnership with MSF to highlight the mental health needs of humanitarians, an often overlooked and underserved group. The film follows forty humanitarians and their loved ones as they discuss the impact of their work on their lives through heartfelt testimonials in a chaptered narrative.

The speakers discussed why they felt a film of this nature and caliber was important to create and why they chose a documentary as the medium of communication. Laurence discussed the difficulty of creating a film that is representative of a global humanitarian experience yet personal enough to convey meaning. Stéphane broached the logistical difficulties of creating a film centered around individuals who work in areas of crisis and take pride in putting others ahead of themselves. Chahinaz detailed the duality of detachment and attachment experienced by humanitarians returning home, the development of a “neutral” outlook, and the difficult but necessary need for mental re-calibration. Lastly, the panelists discussed what they hope this film will achieve in the long-term – the hope of breaking down Eurocentric stereotypes about humanitarians while humanizing a group that often goes unnoticed.

For more information about the film, visit https://www.egoiste.film/