A collective groan (emoticon) was heard from across the Internet when Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner," "Robin Hood") and Kevin MacDonald ("Last King of Scotland," the upcoming "The Eagle") joined forces with YouTube to create an outsourced documentary titled "Life in a Day" The idea was for members of the video sites to record their goings-on for an entire day and submit them to the filmmakers to edit into a feature film that would premiere at Sundance.
A "YouTube documentary" brings flashes of adorable kittens, Funniest Home Video-style slapstick and X-rated prank submissions to mind. Could anything of worth be produced by a site that delivers 55 search results for "monkey drinking urine?"
"Life in a Day," whittled down from 80,000 submitted clips, bounces from continent to continent, juxtaposing the world's commonalities and differences in an array of visually stunning images. It's life-affirming to know people around the world find comfort in their daily rituals. The film hits its most poignant moments when it slows down to follow a few common narrative threads, like a biker whose been traveling the globe for nine years, or a woman coping with the return of her cancer. "Life in a Day" captures unfiltered human reactions in a way only the odd freedom of YouTube could produce.
Variety says that "Emotions run thick through 'Life in a Day,' with each viewer sure to relate closely to some captured detail or stated remark...Auds willing to lose themselves in a kind of Internet-style armchair adventure will doubtless be swept up."
Film School Rejects admit that "On a micro level, the enterprise occasionally grows tedious," but suggest, "'Life in a Day' testifies to the remarkable, democratizing nature of cinema and the power of images seen and voices heard for the first time." The Film Stage thinks the movie has redefined the YouTube generation: "These filmmakers have reversed the negative connotations related to the artistic quality of YouTube, and created one of the most inspiring documentaries here at the festival and have set a benchmark for 2011."
National Geographic Films has picked up "Life in a Day" for a release in theaters on July 24 - exactly a year after the titular "day." If you're feeling antsy, you have a chance to watch the film today, when it streams on YouTube tonight at 8PM EST, in conjunction with the Sundance premiere!