Mumbai was inaugurated as one of the world’s top six cultural capitals on Saturday as nearly 1,000 film buffs stayed up through the night to watch the first Pangea Day event.
Mumbai and the other host cities — Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, London, Kigali and Cairo — were connected through technology and a shared humanity by a live four-hour telecast that showcased 24 short films with the theme of replacing conflict with peace.
Despite the unsociable timing — the last film was screened at 3.30 am — there was huge enthusiasm for the event and its cause at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.
The subsidiary event at a community centre in Dharavi did not generate much interest, though, with only 17 people turning up.
The reason the Dharavi event failed was partly because of the event’s timing and also because of the language barrier.
“The language problem is certainly something we hope to improve on next year,” said producer Tom Hamilton. “We don’t just want the event to reach the more privileged members of society — the message has to reach everyone.”
It is estimated that half a billion people tuned in to the event worldwide, to watch the independent films — some made by refugees using nothing more than a cellphone.
The event was broadcast in 150 countries and streamed live on the Internet and to mobiles.
The films’ themes included love, war, hope and despair and the audience at NCPA reacted with laughter, tears, shouting and clapping.
“It feels like a live event and was an emotional roller-coaster — shocking images from a refugee camp to people talking about what love means to them,” said Hamilton.
“Mumbai has risen to the occasion and fulfilled the honour of it being chosen as a global cultural capital. Most people stayed right to the end, which was just fantastic.”
The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Indian filmmaker Sumit Roy, whose short film, Dancing Queen, depicting a young girl dancing with her fingers, was shot on a cellphone.
“Modern technologies are connecting us over incredible distances,” said Queen Noor of Jordan, speaking in Los Angeles. “But today, one of the oldest technologies is connecting us — story-telling.”