Mike Miller
September 19, 2017 09:00 AM

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are shining a light on the remarkable true story of three young activists who saved millions of lives by rethinking the way healthcare is administered in the developing world.

The film, called Bending the Arc, tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, Dr, Jim Yong Kim (now the President of the World Bank) and Ophelia Dahl, who, while barely out of their teens, came together in a squatter settlement in Haiti and began transforming the face of global health care.

Telling their incredible story has been a passion project for the Damon and Affleck, who worked on the film as executive producers. The trailer above, debuted exclusively on PEOPLE, gives a first look at the the trio’s long and difficult journey to ultimately saving millions of lives.

Bending the Arc

The film begins thirty years ago, a time when much of the world was ravaged by diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis. That’s when Yong Kim, Farmer and Dahl met in Haiti and became fast friends, all sharing the same dream of bringing first-class healthcare to people in the third world.

They began small, pooling resources (sometimes even “borrowing” medical supplies from Farmer’s alma mater, Harvard Medical School) and setting up health centers in remote areas that had been largely forgotten by the outside world.

A patient before and after treatment.

But when faced by a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the trio came up with a revolutionary and highly controversial idea to train their local friends and neighbors in Haiti as healthcare workers. Despite widespread resistance from the medical community — some of which argued that poor people were incapable of learning how to treat themselves — their model began to work.

Bending the Arc

Soon the program of training locals in the application of life saving medicines began to spread, first to Peru and then to Rwanda. They battled the deadly MDR-TB epidemic, treating dying patients against the policies of the World Health Organization and later went on to become the first doctors to treat AIDS patients in rural settings with full-courses of anti-retrovirals.

The success of their programs were undeniable, and before long, world policies began to change and millions of people, often on the brink of death, were saved. Yong Kim was even later appointed President of the World Bank, where he has vowed to change policy from the inside. 

Bending the Arc hits theaters Oct. 6.

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