Jehane Noujaim, the mind behind Pangea Day, is hoping to bring the world closer together through the power of film.

For Jehane Noujaim, there are few things more emotionally stirring than a movie. So when the 34-year-old filmmaker was offered the chance to change the world by having one wish become a reality, she didn't ask for money to build water wells or ship medical supplies. She asked for a four-hour film festival played simultaneously around the globe. With Pangea Day-named for Pangea, Earth's ancient, unified landmass-Noujaim aims to build compassion among people around the world by sharing their life stories and experiences on film. Noujaim's plans have come to fruition thanks to the TED Prize-a $100,000 award given to help people fulfill one world-changing wish-which she won in 2006.On May 10, audiences will gather at screenings, online, and around cell phones and televisions in far-flung locales from Cairo to Rio de Janeiro. They'll be there to watch four hours of documentaries and short features made by people around the world, on pressing issues ranging from climate change to political repression (Pangea Day received more than 1,500 film submissions from 43 countries). The films will stream live on Pangea Day's website, but Noujaim and her colleagues urge people to watch in groups, and have arranged for screenings in places that rarely feature films, including a Bedouin camp outside Jordan and a town square in Beirut. "My hope was to build a platform for that one boy in Africa or Pakistan or Myanmar to share his story and have the world listen. Because the minute people feel that their truth is relevant to the world, they begin to feel differently about themselves and their place in the world."Noujaim's experiences as an Egyptian-American who grew up in the religiously and socially volatile Middle East have given her an understanding of how images can affect perspectives. "I believe that the images we see of ourselves-in the news, on the internet, or in film-help shape what we believe about ourselves and what others believe about us," she says. "And if those images are for the most part violent, humiliating, and degrading, what does that say about how young people will continue to see themselves and their relationship with the people who actually believe those images?"\n\n\n

\nNoujaim, the director of the critically acclaimed documentary Control Room, is one of the many directors working on the Freakonomics movie due out next year.\n
While promoting Control Room, her award-winning film about the inner workings of the Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera, Noujaim noticed that audiences in the Middle East were particularly curious to hear what Americans thought of her portrayal of the Al Jazeera newsroom. The opposite occurred when she screened the film in the States, giving Noujaim a vivid appreciation for the divide between the two cultures. During the 2006 World Cup, Noujaim watched people around the world jury-rig televisions and satellite feeds, gathering in the streets to watch the ultimate soccer tournament. If only filmmakers had the power to gather people around screens in unison like this, she thought. From these two experiences the idea for Pangea Day was born. "Pangea is a humble step in a process that might help to replace complacency and fear about the other with curiosity and excitement about the other," she explains. "It is about getting into another person's head, seeing the world through another person's eyes."Of course, what people do following Pangea Day is up to them. After the global screening, Pangea Day's website will be remodeled into a springboard for people to act on their inspiration from the films, featuring information on organizations that are helping to address the issues brought to light through the screening process. Previous TED winners have used their $100,000 for things like creating new cures for brain disorders, and Noujaim is the first to point out that her results wont be nearly as quantifiable, but, even though it's a little bit of a cliché to say, she'll be happy for even small, incremental change. "Pangea will succeed if just one person tells a story and he or she feels the power of his or her own voice; if someone else on the other side of the world, watching a screen, feels compelled to tell his story back," Noujaim says. "If you laugh with someone and humanize them, it's harder to kill them."LEARN MOREpangeaday.orgSEED MONEYPangea Day was also funded by the Sapling foundation, which gave $1 million, and other sponsors.
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less