Heralded by the LA times as "game-changing" and "transcending all the typical barriers of rectangular cinema", Gabo Arora's widely acclaimed virtual reality documentaries have all premiered as official selections at major film festivals around the world. Gabo is an award-winning immersive artist, filmmaker and Founder/Creative Director of LightShed, a storytelling, technology and research studio collaborating with the industry’s leading creative pioneers and entrepreneurs focused exclusively on emerging technologies currently known as VR, AR and AI. He is also a professor at Johns Hopkins University, where he designed, leads and is the Founding Director of the new Immersive Storytelling and Emerging Technologies (ISET) program and lab. Formerly, he was a Senior Economic Policy Advisor for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon; a UN diplomat with extensive field experience in disaster and conflict zones; and the United Nations' first-ever Creative Director where he founded UNVR - a division of the UN focused on virtual reality initiatives and campaigns.
The output of Gabo’s VR films raised over $1 billion in increased aid for refugees. His VR film Clouds Over Sidra, in partnership with UNICEF, continues to double direct to consumer fundraising contributions from 1:12 to 1:6. Sidra is distributed in 40 countries in 15 different languages and is the most widely distributed and viewed social impact VR film globally.
A native New Yorker, Gabo also holds honors degrees with distinction from NYU and Johns Hopkins University. His mother tongue is Punjabi, he is fluent in Hindi/Urdu, French, Italian and Spanish. He is a Davos World Economic Forum Arts and Cultural leader and was nominated for a term-membership at the Council on Foreign Relations by Francis Fukuyama. His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, nominated for an Emmy, awarded a Cannes Lions, a Sheffield Doc/Fest award for best documentary, a Lumière Award, two Webbys, and has been featured in the New Yorker, BBC world service, the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine, Fast Company, New York Times and covered widely in the Guardian, Vice News, Wired, TED, NPR and PBS Newshour.
Gabo’s VR experience, “Zikr: A Sufi Revival”, World Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2018, with Newsweek calling it “the most transcendental experience of the festival” and was the first-ever VR documentary to be sold and acquired (by Dogwoof) in Sundance’s history.