Title: One Day on Earth
Director: Kyle Ruddick
Like last year’s “Life in a Day,” which also aimed to catalogue a single day on this planet, documentary “One Day on Earth” is the result of a massive undertaking from a diverse group of volunteer filmmakers assembled by a participatory media experiment. Beguiling as well as meandering, but thought-provoking and frequently gorgeous, it’s an interesting nonfiction snapshot that — in capturing the wide variety of life, human and otherwise — is much cheaper and more exotic than any similarly far-flung, passport-stamped itinerary a viewer could put together on their own.
Overseen by director Kyle Ruddick, and wrangled into shape from more than 3,000 hours of footage in more than 70 different languages (subtitled here when necessary), the one day from “One Day on Earth” is October 10, 2010 (yes, 10/10/10). A web site helped spread the words regarding submissions, but a few grants and a United Nations connection of the filmmaking team also helped place cameras with more than 95 UN offices in an effort to allow people to film in countries where it would normally be difficult. Amazing footage from a few other countries (North Korea, we’re looking in your general direction) arrives via cameras smuggled in, one supposes.
The country of origin for each piece of footage is labeled. And, like an old VH-1 pop-up video, “One Day on Earth” is tagged with statistical trivia that holds true on the film’s date of production — some hopeful or pause for thought (26.3 percent of the world’s population is under 14 years of age), and some sad and grim (45 percent live on the equivalent of $2.50 per day, or less). Mostly, though, despite its thematic groupings and standard-of-life comparisons (food preparation, transportation, water potability), this movie is just a field trip through life, with all the wide-eyed skips of the heart it implies.
A young girl in Tajikstan picks cotton to earn money for her books, while elsewhere another parent admits her disappointment with the one daughter of hers that has continued in school past fourth grade, since it means she can’t assist in making money for her family. In Haiti, a young woman talks about the emotional after-effects of the earthquake, and how they are channeled into her art. In Kosovo, a bride gets made up in elaborate fashion for an orthodox wedding ceremony.
Given its more esoteric roots, there’s a certain ceiling for a movie like this, it’s true. But “One Day on Earth” highlights the interconnectivity of life on this planet, and the simple fact that our fates are bound together in this wonderful, perilous journey.
NOTE: For more information, visit www.OneDayOnEarth.org.
Written by: Brent Simon
A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International and Magill's Cinema Annual, and film editor of H Magazine. He cannot abide a world without U2 and pizza.