New York, NY – After two years of planning and pre-production around th globe, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim’s dream to create a global cinema event was realized Saturday with the launch of Pangea Day – a multi-country event designed to bring the world closer together through the medium of film.
In a four-hour event broadcast live from Cairo, Kigal, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, thousands of onlookers watched a program of short films, brief lectures, engaging talks and live-music
Pangea Day was born back in 2006 when Jehane Noujaim, who directed the critically-acclaimed 2004 documentary “Control Room,” was awarded the prestigious TED Prize at the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference, a four-day event in Long Beach, CA, which featured 50 speakers sharing their ideas on building a better globally-oriented future.
As her award, Jehane received $100,000 towards the wish for “brining the world together for one day a year through the power of film.”
“Pangea” refers to the name of the supercontinent that existed some 250 million years ago, when world’s continents were joined together in one mass before they broke off ultimately to form their current configurations.
Broadcast across the globe by TV stations Current TV, Sky Movies Indie, Star TV and many smaller local stations, Pangea Day was also streamed online and via mobile phones, courtesy of Nokia, a global partner of the event.
Local events in a variety of country were structured around the live-broadcast. People gathered either in their homes or in public places to watch the broadcast together, free of charge.
Over the course of the last two years, Jehane gathered an impressive advisory board that includes such Hollywood players as J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Bender, Bob Geldorf, Goldie Hawn, Alexander Payne, Meg Ryan, Paul Simon, Jeff Skoll, Forest Whitaker, among others.
New York hosted two Pangea day events, one at the Paley Center (formerly the Museum of Television & Radio in Midtown Manhattan) and another at Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) at the former Firehouse Station , a landmark building in Chinatown.
In a taped welcome speech and presentation, Jenhane noted there were around 1,000 Pangea events worldwide taking place simultaneously in over 100 countries. It took the organizers about a year, she reported, to review the thousands of submissions of short films from around the world and curate the Pangea Day programs.
In the four-hour program, 24 shorts films from filmmakers around the world addressed issues such as global warming, human rights, poverty, peace building and reconciliation efforts.
One of the most interactive and connecting moments during the broadcast followed Neil Davenport’s short film Laughter Club, when actress Goldie Hawn introduced Dr. Madan Kantaria, the protagonist of Davenport’s documentary. Kantaria’s philosophy is to build peace and understanding through laughter, and he established laughter clubs around the world, with the aim to have 1 million laughter clubs by 2018. All attending the Pangea Day broadcasts were invited to stand up, spread their arms and laugh for one minute.
Most of the final hour was dedicated to the conflict in the Middle East. Filmmaker and Pangea Day Founder Jehane Noujaim introduced Queen Noor of Jordan, who then introduced a short excerpt from Enounter Point, a feature documentary by Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha about the reconciliation processes of ordinary Israeli and the Palestinian citizens.
Following the exerpt one of the film’s protagonists, an Israeli mother whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, told how she had renounced revenge of her son’s death after she had become a member of the Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF), a grassroots organization of bereaved Palestinians and Israelis that promotes reconciliation as an alternative to revenge and hate-based responses. The woman, Robi Damelin, read an excerpt of a letter that she wrote to the parents of her son David’s assassin.
Also screened was Jehane’s short documentary Combatants for Peace, centering on a former Israeli soldier and a former Palestine resistance fighter, both of whom renounced violence in the Middle East and had become confirmed peace activists.