Staff Writer, May 18, 2008
In 2006, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim won the TED Prize, an annual award granted at the TED Conference. She was granted $100,000, and more important, a wish to change the world. Her wish was to create a day in which the world came together through film. Pangea Day grew out of that wish. Pangea Day taps the power of film to strengthen tolerance and compassion while uniting millions of people to build a better future.
On May 10, 2008 — Pangea Day — sites in Cairo (Egypt), Kigali (Rwanda), London (UK), Los Angeles (US), Mumbai (India), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) were linked live to the world through the internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones that shared a program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music. And thousands of other remote sites like Caesarea (Israel), La Paz (Mexico), Petaling Jaya (Malaysia) and Toronto (Canada), where people found out about Pangea Day decided to organize their own screenings. The program delved through various subjects such as universality, love, dreams, borders, tears, the concept of us and them, fear, anger, laughter and reconciliation.
The program featured human universals, from the "6 Billion Others" project by Yann Arthus-Bertrand where the citizens across the globe share their view of love, dream, fear, anger and laughter.
“Dancing Queen,” which was shot in India on a Nokia mobile phone seriously pacts a major punch, according to the host Lisa Ling.
Funny but pointed short, “Elevator Music,” is about how we share space with many other kinds of people.
“Stille Post," plays a game known as Chinese Whispers or Telephone. At the end of their lesson, a class of third graders is asked to choose a game. Miriam, a cheeky girl, suggests "Telephone" -- in which a secret message is passed around a circle. Suspense mounts as the message is passed from child to child, but Paul, the boy sitting next to Miriam, doesn't realize it is at his own expense. "The Slap," tells the story of a mysterious event on an Iranian train.
“Walleyball,” documents the game of volleyball – played at the U.S.-Mexico barrier. On one side, helicopters and machine guns; on the other, mariachi bands and families sharing popsicles. Between them, a fierce battle – not of mere volleyball players, but of human citizens who would be free to play together against those forces determined to keep them apart.
“Moving Windmills,” depicts the story of William Kamkwamba, a remarkable young man from a remote rural village in Malawi who was forced to drop out of high school for lack of money, realized that they have enough wind in his country and went on to build windmill to power his family's home based on the picture he saw in a textbook that he borrowed from a local library.
“The Americana Project: Cuba,” is about the family reunion that has unexpected results. Likewise, the story of "Inja (Dog)," is also intense that leaves the conclusion to the viewers where a long-brutalized dog comes between a white landowner and his young black farmhand.
Christiane Amanpour of CNN interviewed Muhieddine Chehab and Assaad Chaftari, two soldiers in the Lebanese Civil War. Chehab, a Muslim, and Chaftari, a Christian, had been sworn in as enemies -- but after years of military duty they decided to stop fighting.
Parent’s circle - Families Forum, which joins Israeli and Palestinian families who share both a deep loss and a desire for an end to violence, is featured in the film "Encounter Point." Two members of this group, Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awwad, spoke onstage in one of the most moving moments of the day. Ali Abu Awwad’s brother was shot dead by an Israeli soldier and Robi Damelin’s son was killed by a Palestinian combatant. Both received standing ovation from the audience.
The excerpt from Jehane Noujaim's "Combatants for Peace,” about two former enemies - Jonathan Shapira (Israeli) and Bassam Aramin (Palestinian) leaves everyone in tears, particularly from one woman in the audience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the camera rolls in.
Actresses Meg Ryan, Cameron Diaz and Goldie Hawn, Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core, Queen Noor of Jordan, Karen Armstrong and many other visionaries took part in the program.
The legend Gilberto Gill's global sing-along from Rio de Janeiro was a stirring performance; Hypernova, the white-hot band from Iran, connected everyone with the universal love of rock-and-roll and "I hate this," by the hip-hop artist Nadirah X and "American Prayer," by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics were truly inspirational.
The event was co-hosted by Max Lugavere and Jason Silva, the founding hosts/producers of Current TV and Kenyan filmmaker, June Arunga.
In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that -- to help people see themselves in others -- through the power of film. Of course, movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can.