Tigers is a new film by Oscar-winning director Danis Tanovic based on the true story of a former Nestlé baby milk salesman called Syed Aamir Raza taking on the industry with the help of IBFAN (the International Baby Food Action Network) when he realises that babies are dying as a result of his work pressuring doctors to promote formula. One character in the film embodies some of the IBFANers who helped Aamir, including Tracey Wagner-Rizvi, Andreas Adelberger and Baby Milk Action’s Patti Rundall and Mike Brady.
The Formula Problem, From Baby Milk Action
Tigers is a based-on-fact drama about a formula company salesman.
Formula companies continue to routinely break UN marketing rules – except where they are regulated and held to account.
For some current concerns about how formula companies promote their products, see the Breaking the Rules 2014: In Brief report, produced by the International Code Documentation Centre (ICDC), part of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).
Breaking the Rules 2014 was launched in May 2014 prior to the World Health Assembly by ICDC and Baby Milk Action.
The full Breaking the Rules 2014 report profiles 23 formula and feeding bottle and teat companies.
Irresponsible marketing undermines breastfeeding. Breastfeeding saves lives – and could save more. A breastfed child is less likely to suffer from gastroenteritis, respiratory and ear infections, diabetes, allergies and other illnesses. In areas with unsafe water a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea.
Estimates in 2013 suggest 11.6% of under-5 deaths could be prevented by breastfeeding. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says:‘Globally, breastfeeding has the potential to prevent about 800,000 under-five deaths per year if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed.’
Baby Milk Action acted as one of the Consultants to the film makers. We are confident that the story they will tell will shine a light on the baby milk issue and the power of corporations, and we encourage everyone to see it.
Please explore our website to learn more about the way baby food companies push infant formula and other products – and find out what you can do to help protect babies and their families.
Two filmmakers return from a research trip to Pakistan, troubled by inconsistencies in the story they are writing. They ask their subject, Ayan – a young Pakistani salesman – to tell his story to their financiers’ lawyer, on the record. If his story is true, and he can prove it’s true, they can make the film. If not, the huge corporation whose methods they are attacking, could destroy them. Ayan’s story begins with his marriage to the beautiful Zainab. Seeing him struggle to sell unbranded local pharmaceuticals, she persuades him to try for a job with a prestigious multinational – Lasta Foods, known for their infant formulas. To his amazement, and despite his lack of a college diploma, he’s hired. It’s a dream come true for a common local boy without a college degree. Ayan takes Lasta’s fighting tiger attitude training to heart and his “growl” gets stronger everyday. He uses all his skills – and incentives – to persuade doctors and other health professionals to recommend his products. Soon he’s the star salesman and life is good.
A son is born and soon another child is on the way. Faiz, one of Ayan’s new doctor friends, goes off to Karachi to study public health issues. When he returns, a couple of years later, he’s a changed man. He hauls Ayan into a children’s emergency room. Babies are dying and the doctor says it’s all Ayan’s fault. Faiz reveals a startling truth: Most of his patients don’t have access to clean water. They mix infant formula in filthy water and give it to their babies, who get diarrhoea. Or because it’s so expensive they dilute it and malnutrition follows. Breastfeeding would pass on natural immunities but mothers are persuaded to use formula instead. These babies are dying because of Ayan’s work.
Devastated, Ayan visits a slum area and sees unsafe water being used everywhere. He is a father himself; he must stop these babies from dying. He is shocked that his Lasta supervisor is aware of everything, but simply blames the government for not solving the water problem. He mocks Ayan for complicating his good life for nothing. Ayan quits his job and vows to divulge the scandal behind the corporation’s infant milk formula. With the help of his legalese-friendly father, Ayan gives notice to his former employers, telling them to stop marketing breastmilk substitutes in Pakistan and presenting evidence of how he was authorised by them to breach their own rules. It’s David versus Goliath but this underdog will barely get the chance to fight. The other salesmen in the town hear he is threatening their livelihoods and go after him. Two men come to Faiz’s home in the middle of the night and warn him that no-one on Ayan’s side will be spared. Alone and desperate, Ayan fears his desire to do the right thing has brought his family to ruin.
Then the head of a local action group shows him evidence that people in the west have, for years, been protesting over infant deaths in the third world. He realises he must take a stand. A western TV crew make a documentary about his story and take him to Germany to promote it. He’s promised he will return to Pakistan as a hero, but on the night of transmission, his former employers reveal a dark secret and suddenly it seems Ayan’s story must go untold. Shaken by the true complexities of Ayan’s experiences, the filmmakers realise they must tell the whole story, warts and all. But they too will soon discover the real power of a multinational corporation. Can the truth ever be told?
His previous feature, AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF AN IRON PICKER, won two Silver Bears at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize and Best Actor for Nazif Mujic, who made his debut re-enacting his own story in the film. Tanovic´’s 2001 debut feature NO MAN’S LAND won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Set in the midst of the Bosnian war in 1993, NO MAN’S LAND also won Best Script prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and European Film Awards. The film received over 40 international awards, making it one of the most awarded first feature films in history. Tanovic´ has made two other films about war and its consequences. CIRKUS COLUMBIA is set in the period just before the conflict reaches his native Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the Englishlanguage TRIAGE, starring Colin Farrell, dealt with post-war trauma. Tanovic´ was born in 1969 in Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and raised in Sarajevo where he studied film directing at Academy of Perfoming Arts Sarajevo. When Sarajevo fell under siege, he spent two years on the frontline filming for the army. The material that Tanovic´ and his colleagues produced on these dangerous missions has been seen in many films and news reports about the Bosnian war. In 1994, Tanovic´ emigrated to Belgium to continue his film studies at INSAS film school and he began making shorts and documentaries. In 2005, Tanovic´ made the French-language feature HELL (L´ENFER), from a script co-written by the late Krzysztof Kieslowski. The film starred many of France’s finest actors, including Emmanuelle Beart, Guillaume Canet, Jacques Gamblin, Carole Bouquet and Jean Rochefort.