Log on for YouTube: The Movie

"Life in a Day," the ultimate DIY film, gets Sundance debut amid Hollywood awards season glitz.

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011  |  Updated 9:55 PM EDT
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"Life in a Day" gets Sundance cred.

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We're not usually fans of long-form, live-streamed events, which can hold viewers hostage to fickle Internet connections. But Thursday night brings an event that's worth logging on for: the premiere of YouTube's "Life in a Day" movie at the Sundance Film Festival.

For the uninitiated, the film is the ultimate group DIY effort – a pastiche of about 1,000 of the 80,000 clips shot by regular folks from around the globe last July 24 and uploaded to the video site.

The movie chronicling 24 hours in the life of the world is 90 minutes long. But we've spent far more (and probably too much) time clicking through the some of the 4,500 hours of raw material, which ranges from the mundane (clips of people cooking and eating) to the funny (lots of mugging for the camera) to the sad (multiple hospital scenes) to the life affirming (newborns making their video debuts).

The movie strikes us as a kind of an old-school Life magazine photography project (think 1974’s “One Day in the Life of America”) re-animated for the Internet age, when we're all potential filmmakers whose lives, on some level, merit at least a few seconds, if not 15 minutes, of fame.

Filmmakers Ridley Scott and Kevin Macdonald ("The Last King of Scotland") helped assemble the film, which can be viewed here Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern time.

However the final product turns out – and our hopes are high – the debut of "Life in a Day" stands as a welcome counterpoint to the glitz of the Hollywood movie awards season, which ends Feb. 27 with the Academy Awards.

The debut also comes less than a month after movie critic Roger Ebert pushed a YouTube short showing scenes the post-Christmas blizzard in New York for an Oscar nomination. "Idiot With a Tripod," alas, didn't make the list of Best Short Film (Live Action) nominees announced Tuesday.

But we may yet see Oscar smile on a movie spawned on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet (even if in the case of "Life in a Day" speeches by thousands of collaborators would make the seemingly interminable awards broadcast even more so).

"Life in a Day" certainly would be eligible in next year's contest. National Geographic Films reportedly revealed plans this week to release the movie in theaters beginning July 24 – one year to the day ordinary citizens from nearly 200 countries took out their cameras for an experiment in chronicling our times.

In the meantime, go here to see some of the clips (warning: it’s addictive time suck) and check out a promo for the movie below:
 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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