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Kevin Macdonald, Ridley Scott Join Forces For Another 'Life In A Day'


Filmmaker Kevin Macdonald invited the world to participate in making a documentary 10 years ago. Along with the producer Ridley Scott, he blended scenes that people sent in from their lives on a single day in July 2010. Now, 10 years later, they're doing it again. Here's NPR's Avery Keatley.

AVERY KEATLEY, BYLINE: It begins with a tempest.



KEATLEY: Lightning flashes and thunder rumbles as we see mothers going into labor and giving birth.

KEVIN MACDONALD: It starts in the middle of the night, the sequence of babies being born, because often that's obviously when babies are born.

KEATLEY: Kevin Macdonald directed the crowdsourced documentary "Life In A Day 2020." It's a sequel to 2010s "Life In A Day." Macdonald asked people around the world to film their lives for one day and submit it to make a sort of time capsule of life on July 25, 2020. They received 324,000 videos from 192 countries.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

KEATLEY: Scenes and montages follow the day's arc from early morning through night - waking, cooking, working, mundane human things. The film follows a guy chasing trains, a woman trying to conceive, a man with a little white dog.

MACDONALD: I've chosen these great moments, these fascinating characters. How do I weave them together to form something that flows and where you sort of feel like you've traveled through not just a day but sort of all of human experience.

KEATLEY: The film tracks familiar narrative themes - birth and death, celebration and sorrow, love and loss. But one theme was inescapable in 2020.

JACK ARBUTHNOTT: When we were talking about it in March, we naively thought that maybe lockdowns might be over by July.

KEATLEY: Producer Jack Arbuthnott also produced the original "Life In A Day."

ARBUTHNOTT: I'd always been really keen to know what had become of the people who were in the original film. As the pandemic kicked off, it began to feel like there was an even better reason to revisit it.

KEATLEY: Suzanne Lucas submitted footage to the original "Life In A Day." She filmed her teenage son Alexander not quite wanting to get out of bed. In 2020, Suzanne rolls the camera while watching her clip from 2010.


SUZANNE LUCAS: That was my son 10 years ago on the original "Life In A Day." I'm going to show you my son now.

And then I turn the camera to my son's urn and where I have his everything set up and said, this is my son now.


LUCAS: He's here with me forever home. Oh, this is going to be harder than I thought.

KEATLEY: Suzanne's son, Alexander Lucas, died in February 2020 due to complications from COVID-19. The film is dedicated to him.

LUCAS: When you lose your child - and he was my only child. Your mind is very cruel to you sometimes, but I had this fear that if anything happened to me, then he would really be gone forever because it's the memories that I have that keep him here now. And by having this film, this beautiful film of the year 2020 dedicated to Alexander, at least now I know he'll be remembered even when I'm not here anymore. It gave me a sense of peace that I never thought I would have.

KEATLEY: Director Kevin Macdonald reflects on the day's emotional range.

MACDONALD: The roller coaster of this film is the kind of roller coaster of life. We know it's going to have difficult moments. We know it's going to have dark bits. But also it can have - and for most people does have - moments of incredible happiness and joy.

KEATLEY: "Life In A Day 2020" reminds us that no matter the year, each day holds promise.

Avery Keatley, NPR News.


KING: "Life In A Day 2020" premieres on YouTube this weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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