Earth Day at the UN

The General Assembly Hall at the UN saw an enthusiastic display of relevancy on the weekend with the showing of the film ‘One Day on Earth‘.  Thousands of people gathered for the special screening which was created from footage shot in 160 countries on one day, 10/10/10. The film was about the intensity of the human experience on mother earth – ‘the amazing diversity, conflict, tragedy and triumph that occurs in one day.’ With 3,000 hours of film from thousands of contributors, the edit was no mean feat, especially tying together themes and insights without judgement or schmaltz. ( It took the editor a year to complete the task. ) Second to inspiration, technology made the film possible, with people using handheld devices, phones, movie cams, computers as well as industrial strength large format cameras, to record their moment for prosperity. As a result parts of the film were blurry or hard to hear, but this aspect added to the whole feel of the picture. It was real emotion – and uninterrupted! I think for the first time ever, I went to the movies and there was no popcorn, no talking and no phone glow from texting addicts. Bliss!

Being in the General Assembly Hall was an interesting experience. The evidence of formality and protocol was obvious in the microphones and buttons at each desk, and it was strange to be in the same space where politics usually prevails. I gravitated to the ‘Australia’ section as did fellow antipodeans, all wanting their picture taken in the hot seat. But it was too close to the screen for viewing, so we retreated to the space between Eritrea and Ethiopia which meant we were pretty much in the center of the world.

Helen Clark, as administrator of the United Nations Development Program which supported the project, introduced the film beforehand and then led a Q&A with the director and producer afterwards. What a woman! She is so genuine and approachable – and of course I could not resist doing just that. I shook her hand, and suggested that Australia could use her help right now. She laughed.

For me the whole experience was a classic New York moment. Where else in the world could you go to the movies at an international political venue, meet one of the most powerful women in the world, take pictures of yourself sitting in your government’s chair, and then walk up the street to home….?

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