World's YouTube clips wow Berlin film festival

Feb 14, 2011 by Anne Chaon
A photographer takes a photo of the Berlinale Logo in Berlin on February 11. On a single day last year, ordinary people from 192 countries made a short movie and uploaded it to YouTube. The result: a touching global "day in the life" that has wowed the Berlin film festival.

On a single day last year, ordinary people from 192 countries made a short movie and uploaded it to YouTube. The result: a touching global "day in the life" that has wowed the Berlin film festival.

Oscar-winning film-maker Kevin Macdonald, backed by "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott and his brother Tony, asked the planet three questions: "Tell us your story, tell us what you fear and show us what's in your pockets."

Macdonald told reporters: "We set up our team on an estimation of 12-15,000 clips, under 1,000 hours of footage, but by the end of July that figure had reached 81,000 clips and 4,500 hours."

Many of the events captured on that day, July 24, were momentous for those recording: in New York, a young man tells his grandmother he is gay; elsewhere another man films the birth of his baby.

Others were maybe less memorable but no less poignant. An elderly Afghan says his greatest fear is to be unable to return home that night.

Another man, whose wife has just been diagnosed with cancer, explains he is no longer afraid, because the worst thing that could have happened has now happened. "I am fearless," he tell the camera.

Other clips are banal: a mop of hair on a pillow, bare feet on tiles padding to the shower.

It is 5:00 am somewhere on Earth. Somewhere, someone is washing, shaving, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast, heading to work.

"What we might see as banal, living in our own culture, is not banal to someone living in Dakar. And likewise what seems banal now to somebody in Shanghai is probably not banal to someone in Colorado," said Macdonald.

And the film, entitled "Life in a Day" and screening out of competition at the Berlin film festival, does not shy away from tragedy.

The main global "news" event of that day took place only 600 kilometres (370 miles) from the cinema in Berlin: a crush at the Love Parade music festival in Duisburg, western Germany, that claimed 21 lives is graphically portrayed.

Producers also got a lucky break with a full moon that inspired many of the amateur film-makers from Australia to Zambia who participated in the project.

Macdonald said the movie, which took seven months to complete, was a product of our times. "The film is doing something that wouldn't have been possible pre-Internet, specifically pre-YouTube."

"The idea that you can ask thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people all to contribute to a project and all to communicate about it and learn about it ... belongs essentially to this age that we live in.

"'Life in a Day' couldn't have existed 100 years ago, 20 years ago even six years ago," he added.

The noticeable thing about the picture is that so many of the contributions were positive, Macdonald said.

"Most of the images were very generous, universal, often very touching," he said.

"We got very little anger. Very little shouting."

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