2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: LIFE IN A DAY

The 42nd and final entry in my doc-by-doc look at the 2011 Sundance line-up has already generated a lot of attention: Kevin Macdonald’s LIFE IN A DAY, a YouTube user-generated record of July 24, 2010 around the world.

Sundance Program Description:

In May 2010, Sundance Institute was invited to participate in a global cinematic experiment. Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald was planning to direct a feature-length documentary shot in a single day, July 24. Fueled by the power and innovation of YouTube, the project enlisted a global community to capture a moment of their lives on camera. We worked together to spread the word, and the world responded with more than 80,000 submissions; over 5,000 hours of deeply personal, powerful film clips were uploaded from contributors from Australia to Zambia, from the heart of the bustling cities to the furthest and most remote reaches of the Earth.

LIFE IN A DAY is a compilation of the most compelling images honed by Macdonald, executive producer Ridley Scott and his team, and a crew of talented editors from the vast footage submitted. Their task was to create a unique cinematic experience: in beautiful and harrowing honesty, what it is to be alive on Earth today.

Some Background:
Macdonald, of course, is known for both his documentaries (2000’s Best Documentary Academy Award-winner ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, 2003’s TOUCHING THE VOID) as well as his narratives (2007’s Best Actor Academy Award-winning THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, 2009’s STATE OF PLAY). Twenty-six of Macdonald’s LIFE IN A DAY global co-directors – who contributed footage to the film, primarily through YouTube – are scheduled to join him at the world premiere, representing the US, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Peru, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates.

Why You Should Watch:
While criticism was leveled against the project, or how it was described, when it was announced, pointing out that there have been other crowdsourced or user-generated projects, such as Jeff Deutchman’s 11/4/08 or Frank Kelly’s 140, the question of whether its approach is unique or not isn’t ultimately that relevant to me – Macdonald’s project is distinctive enough in scope and intent from other projects to distinguish it. Beyond that, it’s no small feat to be able to take 5000 hours of disparate footage and create a 90 minute feature – it’s well worth checking out what he and his team have come up with.

Screening Info:
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above. The film has an official website and will be livestreamed at 5pm PST, concurrent with its world premiere at Sundance, with a rebroadcast at 7pm local time the next day.

1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

One response to “2011 Sundance Docs in Focus: LIFE IN A DAY

  1. Well I’ll be watching!

    I am looking forward to this. Admittedly I was a bit miffed when it was announced, being so close to my film and all. But it’s so much grander than what I did it will be interesting to see what can be done when you truly have the world at your finger tips and it’s not just – one person alone in an office doing everything themselves!

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