Fairtrade Foundation launches emotive new film

To mark Fairtrade Fortnight, the charity has launched a video that gives an insight into the lives of its farmers in Malawi

The Fairtrade Foundation's new video features Edson Maotchedwe, a farmer in Malawi
The Fairtrade Foundation's new video features Edson Maotchedwe, a farmer in Malawi

What is it?

Fairtrade Matters is a film by the Fairtrade Foundation that focuses on the lives of two farmers and workers in Malawi at the centre of the international fair-trade system.

The cinematic film – available on the charity's website in both short and long versions – was produced by the advertising firm The Good Agency and the video production company HLA, directed by Will Robson-Scott. It offers a glimpse into the lives of tea farmers Edson Maotchedwe, a 45-year-old father of seven, and Tsala Mwale, a 28-year-old single mother of one.

According to the Fairtrade Foundation, farm and estate workers such as Edson and Tsala are paid low wages, work long hours and have difficult relationships with estate management.

The film follows their daily routine, giving an insight into the protagonists' communities and revealing their hopes and fears for their children’s futures.

The film has added poignancy because devastating floods hit the country only weeks after it was shot, leaving hundreds dead, 200,000 people displaced and crops and livelihoods – including those of a number of fair-trade producers – devastated.

Why now?

The film, which has been viewed more than 6,000 times on YouTube so far, coincides with the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 23 February to 8 March 2015. According to the foundation's website, the national campaign seeks to encourage everyone in the UK to "choose products that change lives".

Fairtrade Fortnight was first launched in 1995. This year's campaign aims to turn the spotlight on producers who grow some of the British public’s favourite everyday commodities – including cocoa, sugar and tea – to show the difference that fairly traded goods makes to their lives.

What else?

The website that hosts the film has an interactive personality quiz called "Tell Us What Makes You Feel Alive": visitors can choose six themes out of 26 to reveal what type of person they are and what fair-trade product they would be. You can share the results on social media or learn more about fair trade by clicking the "see the other side" tabs on the right of the screen.

The film will also be shown in cinemas throughout the UK, at Fairtrade Fortnight events and on community TV channels.

Third Sector verdict

The slick film is an intimate portrait of tea producers, which gains further gravitas when you consider that the communities featured were affected by the devastating floods in Malawi. The campaign successfully brings to life the farmers and workers at the heart of fair trade by allowing the protagonists to drive the story. The interactive "Tell Us What Makes You Feel Alive" section adds some depth to the experience, but does not detract from the well-made, emotive film.

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