Life In A Day (2011)
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Life in a DayRidley and Tony Scott’s production house Scott Free, in association with LG and YouTube, invited users from around the world to submit footage of their lives shot on July 24, 2010 as a part of a socio-cinematic experiment. Out of the 4800 hours of video gathered, chief director Kevin Macdonald and co. wove this exhilarating 90-minute ride, Life in a Day, which, on its surface takes us through one day in the life of people from around the world. If Dziga Vertov attempted to sketch a portrait of a pulsating city as seen through the Kino-Eye over a day and Medvedkin had Soviet peasants shoot their own lives, edited the obtained footage in his Cine-Train and played it back to them, Life in a Day combines both these ideas and realizes them in a post-globalized cultural-economic climate – a time where the omnipresence of branded consumer products is matched by the ubiquity of low-cost image-making instruments. An endless play of presence and absence, lack and excess, similarity and difference, the homogenous and the un-normalizable and the empowered and the marginalized, Macdonald’s virtually inexhaustible film is a snapshot of planet earth in all its glory, stupidity and complexity. So much film theory has sprung up since Vertov et al made their films and what is of interest is not only the relationship between individual shots, but also the dense cultural content within each one of them that enriches our response manifold. Sporadically erratic and miscalculated, Life in a Day nevertheless achieves the remarkable feat of synthesizing a coherent, mesmerizing and, indeed, philosophically ambitious film from the very elements that have become the antithesis of these traits. What appears as a paean to narcissism to some commentators seems to me as a heightened awareness of one’s own existence. The act of photographing oneself – on a particular day and for a particular purpose – prompts one to be continuously conscious of the passing of time and the finitude of experience. One frustrated lady sums it up in the film’s final line: “Today, even though nothing great happened, tonight, I feel as if something great happened.