This is a fully crowdsourced documentary depicting precisely one full day on Planet Earth, specifically July 25, 2020, to be exact. Over 300,000 videos were submitted from about 190+ countries, all shot by a broad cross-section of the global population on their smartphones, drones, GoPros, and more. The result is a never-ending treasure trove of humanity in its funny, sad, sometimes banal, but always heartwarming glory.
The movie starts with a series of moms-to-be in Brazil, India, Japan, Greece, the UK, and more, in active labor, delivering their babies. The joy that each family feels is contagious - and universal. It then jumps straight into a series of smash cuts, one after another, of people waking up and greeting the day. What makes this montage special is that these people come from everywhere, including some of the harshest places to live in, like refugee camps and other isolated areas. Yet, it is a perfect illustration of how everyone on the planet is connected - even if it's just taking part in familiar and somewhat mundane morning routines such as breakfast, showers, milking the goat, cow, and more.
The rest of the film unfolds at breakneck speed, image upon image, video clips in quick succession of people just being people. Though there is a general framework, starting in the early morning and going down the clock until bedtime, the passage of time is firmly in the background and only serves as a rough guide for an abundance of content that is equal parts vague and obvious, and purposely devoid of commentary and opinion.
"Life in a Day (2020)" is the ten-year-old follow-up or sequel to Life in a Day (2010). The original was filmed the same way, with homemade videos submitted by people all over the world. YouTube was still relatively new a decade ago and not as sophisticated as it is today. Smartphone cameras were not that sharp or versatile as they are now, and creative video content, not as common.
Today, with everyone exposed to micro-videos on social media (including Tiktok), the format of the 2010 version might seem old hat. The stories, however - even if only snippets are shown - are just as compelling, maybe even more so since it is documenting everyday lives within the extraordinary events that took place in 2020.
These events include the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, various natural disasters, the continued ecological destruction of the planet, and more. They all make it seems like 2020 was a hellish year - and that things might not get better anytime soon.
However, the moving images and touching stories that made it into the final cut were not just funny, entertaining, poignant, grounded, and real. They also celebrated humanity, a welcome reminder that life doesn't stop, while leaving behind a sense of hope for the future.