Pangea Day in London

I was at the beautiful Somerset House last evening, attending the Pangea Day screenings in London. It was a warm, lovely day, with ever-so-slight a chill in the air as dusk fell. There must have been at least a thousand people spread across the courtyard, most of them young. I don’t think the organisers could have found a more imposing place as the venue, and fortunately for them, London’s unpredictable weather didn’t spring any nasty surprises.

The premise of Pangea Day – to spread cultural understanding and awareness among people of the world – was huge, but they executed the programme towards that goal remarkably well. In the vein of the Live Aid, Live 8 or Live Earth concerts of the recent past, Pangea Day screenings occurred simultaneously in venues across the globe: Cairo (Egypt), Kigali (Rwanda), Mumbai (India), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), London (UK), and Los Angeles (USA). They were watched by millions of people spread across the rest of the world as well, at public or private screenings. In London, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour was a moderator for a discussion on the strife in Lebanon. Elsewhere, Iranian band Hypernova played, and Cameron Diaz and Meg Ryan (members of the Pangea Day advisory board) introduced some of the films, among other events.

Pangea Day is proof that people are motivated to change the world. The whole event was the brainchild of filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, winner of the 2006 TED Prize, which gave her $100,000 and a wish to change the world. Her wish – to create a day where the world came together through film – came true yesterday.
Almost all the films were very inspirational, but some of my favourites were Elevator Music, J’attendrai le suivant, Papiroflexia, I Remember Lebanon, Stille Post, and Dancing Queen. They are all just a few minutes long, so go watch them if you can.
Nokia were the sponsors of Pangea Day, and since this blog is about media in one way or another, I must point out that it was a great way of promoting their brand. They created the Share on Ovi site where people could share their mobile videos as part of Pangea Day, and also held the 2008 Nokia Mobile Filmmaking Awards, where winning films were screened as part of the event. It never felt like it was out-of-place advertising, neither did it come on too strong, because of the link between the brand and the event itself.

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