“Life in a day” by Kevin Macdonald, 2011

And social media became art

Location: anywhere. Main character: anybody. Subject: life. It may sound too vague or just plain random but the result of this creative film experiment is as mesmerizing, moving and indescribable as life itself.

Last summer, Kevin Macdonald asked the YouTube community to submit their videos from July 24th 2010. Participants could film anything they wanted and video-reply three questions: what they loved, what they feared and what they had in their pockets. 4,500 hours of footage were submitted from 192 countries. This was then cut down to just over ninety minutes, creating a new genre of documentary that portrays glimpses of a day in the life of hundreds of people from all over the world.

The thread linking this vivid selection of images is the 24 hours timeframe that a day has for all of us, regardless of age, religion, gender or marital status. Just after midnight, a tipsy guy toasts for what he says will be ‘the best day of our lives’. An hour and a half later, a girl drives home after work wondering why nothing worth filming had happened to her that day. The film moves forward as the hours go by, from dusk till dawn, but there’s no way for the audience to guess what’s coming next. It could be something impressive like a skydiver falling to earth, the birth of a giraffe or the colors of the aurora borealis. You may be moved by the sense of humour that helps a family cope with cancer, the precocity of a shoeshine boy or the friendship that brought a new life to a heavy drug-user. You will surely laugh out loud at the careful instructions of a father helping his teenager son shaving for the first time.

Common human experiences will also bring some structure to this chaotic but captivating visual stream. Kevin Macdonald wisely structures the film around all these moments that make us one: we sleep, we wake up, we eat, we use the toilet (if we have one), we love, we cry, we laugh and, one day, we die. Indeed the most magic gift this film offers is the extraordinary nature of ordinary moments; how what’s routine or tradition for many can be inspiring and shocking -or even disgusting- to others. And that selection of memorable stories will be different for each spectator, as the line between what’s regular and exceptional will be determined by our own life and experience. For instance, I don’t have wine for breakfast, I can’t climb a human tower and I have never tried to hold myself against the back of a bus. But that’s life for many others and I can only feel grateful for having had the chance to live July 24th 2010 again, this time through their eyes.

Thanks to the YouTube team for working on such a cool idea and thanks to the YouTube community for making it happen.


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