My Films

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pangaea Day

Last night at two in the morning, fifty people gathered at the United Nations University's Media Lab to participate in Pangaea Day. Pangaea Day was a world-wide internet-streaming film event in which 24 films were shared over the course of four hours in the name of global awareness and cultural understanding. Broadcast live across the globe, Japan had the lucky fortune of receiving the internet stream at 3 am and I came fully prepared with a sleeping bag to enjoy the cinematic spectacle.

The brains behind this event, filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (producer of the documentary film Control Room) won the TED Prize of $100,000 for her idea that would change the world. The idea, Pangaea day, was a mix of films, music, and speakers who focused on our common humanity while celebrating our diversities. I particularly liked that the event started with planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, reminding us of the wonder and amazement that we as human beings have come to be on a tiny pale blue dot in the vast sea of the universe. Some of the other highlights included an Israeli mother,whose son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, read a letter of reconciliation she wrote to the sniper's mother; artist and computer scientist Jonathan Harris who created the website "We feel fine" which aggregates human emotions by scanning people's blogs and photos for how they are feeling; and former child soldier Ishmael Beah.

While it's certainly possible to call elements of the event bordering on cheesy and not one particular film stood out in my mind in being outstanding (I admit I did nap a little, so I may have missed somethings), what is incredible about this event is how many of us were able to come together to simultaneous share this movie-going experience. Thousands if not millions of people gathered in front of their computers or attended one of the major event spaces in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, and Rio de Janeiro.

Here we see technology as the grand facilitator of this global gathering. While using satellite television is not new, (ie. Spacebridges during the Height of the Cold War), today's streaming video capabilities brought this event into our internet-equipped private homes at an unprecedented scale. When the Laughter Yoga founder, Dr Madan Kataria asked everyone to stand and join him in laughter, all of us at the UNU media lab stood up and laughed. Can you visualize thousands of people around the world standing and laughing together at the same time? This is the power of technology. As I have witnessed over the past year through the cases of Dropping Knowledge and Hometown Baghdad, I see this event as just one more example of how technology can connects us in new and deeper ways, creating awareness of our unity as one world, and allowing us to join in conversation with one another.

It's not too late to watch the event and to continue the conversation online. Just go to .

Here's a clip of our Tokyo event:

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