It's impossible not to find something touching, funny, profound, sad, or inspiring of deeper thought in a film like this one. Yet precisely because there's so much packed in here, Life in a Day 2020 may best be watched -- and digested -- in segments. At about the one hour mark, the film dives into a montage of clips of wild animals, vast nature-scapes, industrial pollution, global climate change, and live food factories. It's such an important message, but after 60 minutes of humanity on display, the sustained emotion feels almost overwhelming. The same could be said of a section dedicated to Black Lives Matter protests in the US, which begins emotionally with a Black man driving by a house with Confederate flags and hinting that he keeps a gun around for self protection, and a Black woman who tearfully recalls that two of her brothers were killed in police custody.
This film is a labor of love, and it's a major effort of collection, curation, and editing. The organizers received 324,000 videos that they whittled down to 87 minutes. They've broadly organized them into like material spread out over the course of a single day, from sun up to sun down. It's also book-ended by babies being born and elderly people reflecting on lives well lived. Surprisingly, it's not entirely focused on COVID, but the pandemic is omnipresent, including in a man who has made the spiders in his home his family, a segment on essential workers of all kinds, and people who have lost loved ones. There's much to be learned about each other, most importantly that there's more that unites us than separates us as humans on this planet. "What I fear the most is that my life will pass unnoticed," a young man from Northern Siberia says, echoing a common human sentiment, and perhaps encapsulating the ultimate value of a project like this one: To notice, to reflect, and to care about ourselves and each other.