Screenwriter, editor and academic Shiqi Li writes about upcoming screenings Life in a Day and Die Tomorrow, two films she has paired as part of her Film Curation programme at the University of Glasgow.
This programme tries to use immersive audiovisual language to explore a landscape of connections between human beings, inviting audiences to experience those intimate moments that we all share in our lifetime. Moreover, whilst people have been suffering a stressful moment at this time, these two films may give you breathing room and show you a new way to view your life. Even without identifiable narratives and stars, their poetic language will offer a great cinematic experience. I’m interested in how watching films functions not just as passing entertainment, rather it can bring intimate moments to the screen to connect and engage with audiences on a deeper level.
Life in a Day is a documentary shot by filmmakers and amateurs all around the world on a specific day: the 24th of July 2010. Unlike traditional mainstream films, this film shows the fabric of normal people living their lives. The film’s ‘non-narrative’ structure does not put the viewer at a disadvantage - on the contrary, it uses raw footage to show audiences those intimate moments, fundamental of daily life and personal human experience. Made twelve years ago, it works like a time capsule of a pre-pandemic world and as a result, the appearance of physical closeness is particularly striking. Since this film was shot by filmmakers all around the world, viewing it now seems to break the boundary of borders and isolation at a time when it's hard to plan a trip.
Like Life in a Day, Die Tomorrow explores a cycle of birth and death, linking a close connection with natural elements. Made in Thailand, it was inspired by true stories the director discovered in newspaper headlines. Although like Life in a Day, it shows those ordinary, undramatic moments of normal people, it also explores the meaning of life in a more philosophical way. It consists of several short real stories that happened suddenly in their lifetime, such as a famous film star who died in a car accident and a businessman who died at a stock market.
However, this film does not spend time on filming how those people died, rather, it keeps the camera still and observes their normal daily routine clips before their death. There are many scenes like that shown in the film, unlike traditional mainstream fast-paced movies, this film shows the mundanity of life at a slow pace, without ever being boring as the viewer is able to identify their own experiences of life. In an interview with an elderly man celebrating his 104th birthday, the director asks him whether he was afraid of death? The man replies that compared with dying, not making the most of your life is more regrettable than death.
In both films, many moments like this harness poetic audiovisual language to explore the profound meaning of issues common to the experience of human life, but they do so with breath of fresh air best experienced on the big screen.
Die Tomorrow screens on Sat 12 Mar, Life in a Day screens on Sat 26 Mar.
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