One screening, one time, one world
May 6, 2008
What would happen if the world got together to watch the same movie at the same time?
Jehane Noujaim, thinks it could be the start of new understanding between nations. Saturday, May 10, Noujaim will try to help to connect the world through film around the world via satellite, cyberspace and mobile phone. She is calling it Pangea Day, referencing the supercontinent that existed 250 million years ago, before it was divided into seven separate land masses.
In Park City, residents will gather at 11:30 a.m. at the Eccles Center to watch 24 short films, musical performances and speeches with the rest of the world. The films were culled from 2,5000 submissions from more than 100 countries, selected for their "ability to inspire, transform and help us see the world through another person’s eyes;" performance events will be broadcast from Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro.
Speakers will include Queen Noor of Jordan, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, musician-activist Bob Geldof and the Persian rock group Hypernova. American filmmakers Max Lugavere and Jason Silva, who will be broadcasting the event on their channel, Current TV, will also speak. Lugavere and Silva run the network with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Interspersed will be segments of nations singing other nation’s anthems: Japanese citizens will sing Turkey’s anthem, Kenyan citizens will sing India’s anthem, citizens in the United Kingdom will sing Argentina’s anthem and French citizens will sing the United States’ anthem. As the Web site for the event, pangeaday.org, explains, "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."
Noujaim, the Egyptian documentarian behind "Control Room," a 2004 film about the Al Jazeera Network and "Startup.com," a 2001 film about the dot-com startup bubble, is supported by a $100,000 grant from the annual TED Conference. Since 1984, TED has provided a meeting of the minds between leaders in technology, entertainment and design. Among the highlights of the event is a chance to see world-renowned thinkers give "the speech of their lives" in 18 minutes, and an opportunity for invitees to have their humanitarian dreams granted with a TED Prize. The award was created in 2005 with a mission of taking the inspiration, ideas and resources generated at TED and using them to make a difference. In addition to Noujaim, who won in 2006, past recipients include former President Bill Clinton, U2 front man Bono, and Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky.
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Teri Orr, executive director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation, decided to host Pangea Day after attending her first TED Conference earlier this year.
"It’s changed my life – It was absolutely phenomenal," she says of the conference. "To be in a place where the smartest people in the world give the talk of their lifetime with no Q and A – it was a tsunami of information."
To be invited to such a conference, individuals have to be nominated, then invited and then apply. "I had to fill out a really extensive form where the answers could only be 100 words," says Orr. "To this day, I still don’t know how I got in I was sitting next to (founder of Amazon.com) Jeff Besos. The people that attended were every bit as remarkable as the people who spoke."
Orr says TED has given her inspiration for the future of the Performing Arts Foundation. However, first she will be attending Pangea Day, an event she anticipates will be quite powerful.
"What (Jehane Noujaim) was saying was, ‘If we could all sit around the campfire and hear everyone’s stories, wouldn’t that be great? OK, well, we can’t, but we could all sit around a movie screen at the same time on the same day,’" she explains, "(because,) if we could hear each other’s stories, it would be really hard for us to hate each other. It’s really hard to hate someone once you’ve heard their story."