Friday, March 12, 2010

Touched, moved and inspired - Invictus

I just returned from the movies a few minutes ago, and while movie reviews are not normally my style for this blog, I have to talk about Invictus tonight. Its a film about South Africa following the end of apartheid and the rise of Nelson Mandela (played brilliantly by Morgan Freeman) to the presidency. He is faced with the daunting challenge of "balancing black aspirations with white fears." Mandela utilizes the Springboks, the South African National Rugby team, who are scheduled to compete in the Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg, to draw together blacks and whites as one nation, one team. This is not an easy task given that the Springboks history, players and even their team colors represent prejudice and apartheid in the minds of the black majority. Both sides, feel this is a bad idea to try to unify a country torn apart by 50 years of racial tension, but despite the political risks of pursuing this path, Mandela prevails in winning over the support of team captain Fran├žois Pienaar (convincingly played by Matt Damon) who goes on to inspire and draw his team together and in the process draw together an entire nation. Both men went way out on a limb and South Africa and the world are better today because of their effort.

So why am I talking about this in a blog about festivals, special events, marketing and entertainment. Quite simply because this film gives an insight into what a really effective event is all about. Its about pulling together a community, whether that be a small club or an entire nation. Its about setting aside past experiences and prejudices, and allowing a new shared experience envelop us in a blanket of joy and pride.

My business and personal philosphy is that we as event producers are charged with touching, motivating and inspiring our audiences, our stakeholders and our communities. To move beyond what everyone else thought impossible and to make a real contribution in the world. This story hit that home run for me. I have to say that I felt my eyes tear up more than once when I was genuinely moved by the experience of the South African people, Mandela's staff and the Springbok players. I encourage you to have the courage to take risks when the greater good of your community is at stake. Be willing to go above and beyond and we will change the world one event at a time.

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