Life in a Day (2011)

We are swiftly moving to a time where Blockbuster is a vague memory, so distant in the past that it’s hard to imagine why dvd rental was made so difficult. I for example, even though I used to work in a movie rental shop, have gone completely digital (despite the few, occasional Finnish films that are too difficult to find online) when it comes to renting films. Digital movie downloads have increased tremendously, and soon Voddler is going to transform film the same way Spotify did music. The scene is starting to bustle with options from Netflix to Lovefilm, Android Store to even Youtube. And what’s even more brilliant, some of the content is exclusively distributed online, and sometimes, like in the case of Life in a Day, it’s done for free.

This new channel for distrubution gives leeway to new types of cinema and innovation. New ideas sometimes work best in a certain setting, where there are no limits. Internet, as we’ve grown to be accustomed to, is everywhere. Now everyone has a chance to spread a message, say something about the world we live in, and the best thing is, there are no ground rules yet to be established.

Fair enough, the mastermind behind Life in a Day is an already acclaimed director, Kevin Macdonald, best known for his exemplary piece, The Last King of Scotland. And yeah, Ridley Scott produced it. But this union is only seen in the best way possible, a backdrop, that lets the stories of hundreds of people around the world shine.

Life in a Day is a documentary about the life on Earth on the 24th of July, 2010. It’s shot by multiple filmmakers around the world and includes contributions submitted via Youtube. Those documenting their day were asked simple questions like what they have in their pockets, what they love, what they’ve afraid of and the answers range from sweet to heartwrenching, from pretentious to filled with insight.

What do you get when you ask the people of the world to chronicle a single day in their lives? You get 80,000 submissions, 4500 hours of footage, from 192 countries. Kevin Macdonald has taken this raw material, all shot on July 24, 2010, and created a 90-minute paean to what it means to be human in the world today.

Life in a Day goes through such a range of emotions, feelings, moods, jokes, scenery, culture, that it’s at times hard to keep up. Some stories grap you in one second, others don’t really leave a lasting impression. Some seem genuine, some seem overtly pretentious and douchy. But to be fair, it’s a great thing, that they also show the less ideal side of the world. There were many a tragic events that occured that day, many of which are already forgotten by the collective consciousness, but at the time were binding the world together through grief.

The universality of this film is admirable. It’s in no way anglo- or eurocentric, which seems to be the trend in all film made today. Or by made today I mean, those films that get shown in Europe and North America. There’s probably a whole other world out there of film that’s inaccesible due to the persumed lack of market interest. I mean, do I really have to move to Argentina to be able to see South American cinema, or to Japan to get a glimpse of what life is like in the land of the rising sun? (If I do, I’ve got my bags packed already .. !) It seems as Hollywood has run out of ideas, with the sequels, prequels, remakes, romcoms and mindless action, I’d love it if we could bring in more film from other countries.

Life in a Day is one of those .. entities, really .. that remind you of all the variety in the world, all the different cultures that seem so far away from each other. Still, the prevailing feeling I was left with was the unity, the commonality of life around the world, the social structures, habits, the food, the families. It’s films like these that make me more appreciative of the global population. We’ve now hit 7,000,000,000, people! And the truth is that it’s quite likely that I’ll get to live to see the 10,000,000,000 population party. I think there’s a few great filmmakers in there that aren’t from the US or the UK.

You Will Like Life in a Day If…

– you’re in the mood for world-hugging.
– you appreciate the little things.
– you need a reminder of how beautiful and tragic life can be.

7 / 10

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3 responses to “Life in a Day (2011)

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