Gabo Arora is a Creative Director and Senior Advisor at the United Nations, Founder and President of Lightshed, a VR and social impact start-up, and an award-winning filmmaker represented by Within/Vrse.works. His work focuses on new technologies that promote social causes and make decision-making processes more inclusive. Among these projects is a viral video campaign for the recent climate change summit in Paris, and various collaborations with internet influencers to promote accountability on global humanitarian aid assistance. He is also founder of UNVR.org, the United Nations’ VR lab, and has directed and produced a series of pioneering, and widely acclaimed, VR documentaries focusing on vulnerable populations in crisis. Clouds Over Sidra, Waves of Grace and My Mother’s Wing have all premiered at major film festivals around the world, including Cannes, Sundance and Tribeca, featured at the World Economic Forum in Davos, screened at the White House, and have exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art’s inaugural program on immersive storytelling.
A native New Yorker, Gabo also holds honors degrees with distinction from NYU and Johns Hopkins University. He is a 2016 World Economic Forum arts and cultural leader at Davos and was nominated for a term-membership at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2013 by Francis Fukuyama. His work has been awarded a Cannes Lion, a Sheffield Doc/Fest award for best documentary and has been featured in the New Yorker, the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine, Fast Company, and covered widely in the New York Times, the Guardian, Vice News, Wired, NPR and PBS NewsHour.
Gabo was also second-unit director on U2’s first-ever VR music video, “Song for Someone”, and has upcoming projects in a variety of genres, including narrative and science fiction, all with the aim to further his expertise on understanding the grammar of this new medium.
Lightshed was born out of a collaboration between a United Nations Development Program senior advisor (Gabo Arora) & an award-winning private VR producer (Chris Milk). The first film, the award-winning Clouds Over Sidra, confirmed to us we had the opportunity to bridge the worlds of commercial or journalistic storytelling to create content that drives our viewers to act.
Four films later, with showings & awards at Sundance, Tribeca, the World Economic Forum in Davos, among others, we have generated impact beyond educating and sensitizing viewers. Our work has helped inspire a refugee resettlement program in Canada and has driven policymakers to understand the human toll of diseases like Ebola. Tellingly, UNICEF has been able to double its rate of donations & increase amounts by 10% through showing our films to potential donors.
Immersive tools like virtual reality can generate immense empathy for real problems. Lightshed is making real change a reality through virtual technologies.