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08 novembre 2007

Goldie Hawn expresses support for film programs to promote global culture and human rights

NEW YORK: Actress Goldie Hawn expressed support Wednesday for two film programs aimed at showcasing amateur and professional films as a way to promote cultural understanding and uphold human rights.

The "Private Benjamin" star and Academy Award winner met with organizers of Pangea Day, a one-day event which is named after what scientists believe was the giant land mass that encompassed all of today's continents. Organizers of the program, scheduled for May 10, 2008, will present a variety of amateur and professional films in an effort they hope will "encourage humanity and catalyze positive change."

"This threads together commonality and it brings together something in a deeply polarized world," Hawn said of the project in a phone interview with The Associated Press. She said she was drawn to Pangea Day "because everyone has a story and film is a very emotional medium" to tell it.

Plans for the program include linking screening venues in New York, Cairo, London, Ramallah, Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv; Dharamsala, India and Kigali, Rwanda, for television and Internet broadcasts.

"Being in film and working in film you learn that the goal is to tell pertinent stories," Hawn said. She noted that the project also appealed to her because of the power of filmmaking and that it gives others a forum in which they can relay their stories and possibly touch lives.

"I've never created a film that hasn't had a resonance," she said.

Pangea Day was created by documentary filmmaker Jehane Noujaim after she won the TED Prize that provided $1 million (€680,000) and access to some of the top thinkers in technology, entertainment and the arts to aid projects with global ambitions. The award, whose winners include former President Bill Clinton and Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, grants recipients one wish to change the world.

Noujaim, who founded Pangea Day, is best known as director of "Control Room," a film which went behind the scenes at the pan-Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera — an independent station that has garnered both strong praise and criticism for its coverage of events in the Middle East.

Along with Hawn, others who have thrown their support behind the project include Rwandan President Paul Kagame who views it as an opportunity to break the singular association many people have with the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Pangea organizers said.

"They're all trying so hard to move on from the tragedy," Delia Cohen, executive director of Pangea Day, said of Rwandans.

Noujaim has put out a call for submissions on the Internet video sharing site, "If you had the entire world's attention, just for a few minutes, what story would you tell?" the video posting asks.

After meeting with Pangea Day organizers Wednesday, Hawn planned to attend a benefit dinner and concert co-hosted by singer Peter Gabriel for WITNESS, an organization he founded that promotes the use of video and film to document human rights abuses.

Hawn, who won the Oscar for best supporting actress in the 1969 movie "Cactus Flower," also said that plans were on hold for a movie that would have scenes filmed in India.

Hawn said "Ashes to Ashes," a movie she wrote about a New Yorker who travels to India to bury her husband's ashes, was "still being financed" and that a deal had not yet been signed.

But she said she remains busy with her other projects including her work for The Hawn Foundation, whose stated mission is to establish a curriculum and pilot programs to help children understand their own thoughts and feelings and respond in healthy and responsible ways.

"One of the problems children have today is stress," Hawn said. "I sat down and said, 'What can we do?'"

The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 7, 2007

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