Daily life from around the world in “Life in a Day”


Credit: Kevin MacDonald

“Life in a Day” features slices of life—including marriage ceremonies—from around the world.

If aliens were to ask what humanity was like, one might be inclined to show them “Life in a Day 2020,” a documentary filmed by humanity itself. Directed by Academy Award winner Kevin MacDonald, and on YouTube since Feb. 6, “Life in a Day 2020” gives an honest portrayal of what life was like under COVID-19 restrictions by sampling clips from the very people who endured it themselves. In this way, it stands out in its own genre and filming in general by successfully embarking on an immense, rich undertaking, and sharing both familiar and unfamiliar insights about the reality we live in, resulting in a unique stay-at-home watch.
What distinguishes this documentary from others of its kind is that all of the filming was done by the very people watching it. It is a series of short clips sent from people around the world who all documented the same, single day in their life: July 25, 2020. The producers received over 300,000 videos from 192 countries. The participants are not well-known actors/actresses or reputable scholars but everyday people who were asked to share a glimpse of their lives and answer a few simple questions. As a result, the audience of the documentary is also the cast of the film.
The selection of clips are not diverse chronologically, of course. Geographically speaking, however, the variety that is present blurs the focus on static location and reminds us that 2020 affected humanity on a global level. The documentary is sometimes defeated by the sheer number of places the viewer gets to see, with the downside being that none of the locations is clarified at the beginning of each of the clips. However, it is clear that the selection process was very open to places all over the world.
These clips truly captured the essence and feeling of a 2020 day. Some were joyful, some were a full tear-jerker, some were thought-provoking. Some were completely devoid of any philosophical or ethical value but made you laugh. Sometimes the clips are quite dull and boring. All of this variety, with its pros and cons, is inevitable, because as life goes, our feelings and emotions change. And since the date is static, the phases of life the participants are going through are going to vary as well.
Consequently, this variety is going to manifest in the nature and quality of the clips included and so all of the clips are wholesome and authentic. This works perfectly for evoking what the ups and downs of 2020 felt like. Because additionally, “Life in 2020” isn’t just by the people, it’s for the people as well. The viewers this caters to are not high-tech researchers intent on finding out more about everyday human life by sampling various clips. The collection of videos is intended to bring each of those everyday humans together. It makes the viewer realize they are not alone in what they were — and still are — experiencing during these changing times.
The world might benefit from having more documentaries like this, where everyone is all seen as one and connected through different ways. This documentary does exactly that, and emphasizes that even though everyone believes that they’re separate, in many ways, it’s also the complete opposite. Our emotions are the same, our feelings are the same and our beliefs are the same. Even if you’re not an alien, this documentary is for you, as it reminds us exactly who we collectively are.