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<p>Assembled by a vast team of editors from 324,000 submitted clips, the film — which premieres Monday at the Sundance Film Festival before hitting YouTube — captures the eerily empty streets, collective cabin-fever and civil unrest of a year like no other.</p><p>”Obviously because of everything that was going on at that moment in July — George Floyd, BLM, Trump, Covid — this is a more thematically rich film, and probably a year, than hopefully we’ll get for a while,” director Macdonald told AFP.</p><p>The footage is more personal than political. Macdonald’s favorite clip is a Robinson Crusoe-esque man who recorded himself chatting to pet spiders Sammy, Jacob and Crystal during lockdown, and “feels like he’s the last man on Earth.”</p><p>We meet a man left homeless by the pandemic who finds relief in flying drones, and a mother whose young son appeared in the first film but who now keeps his ashes in an urn after his tragic death from Covid-19.</p><p>Macdonald — Oscar-winning director of “The Last King of Scotland” and “Touching the Void” — agreed to return for a sequel last March, when the looming pandemic was “this Covid thing” which seemed sure to “be over by May.” (Scott returns as executive producer.)</p><p>”Little did we know the whole year would be utterly transformed,” Macdonald said. </p><p>”Even when I look back on the first film, I feel like it is a time-capsule for all sorts of things… this one will feel even more different,” he added.</p><h1>’Never seen on camera'</h1><p>While the first film received “endless stuff of people skateboarding and surfing,” this time “the material was by a factor of 10 more sad, more about loss and mortality, and spirituality,” he said.</p><p>Macdonald was astonished by the brutal honesty of many of the submissions, which include a man whose proposal to his girlfriend goes woefully wrong, and a couple breaking up live on camera.</p><p>”It’s amazing, things you’ve pretty much never seen on camera before for real,” he said. “There’s a lot of those in romantic comedies but, actually, this is what that really looks like.”</p><p>Over two months, clips from 192 countries were watched in their original language and cataloged by around 40 filmmakers, who gave each submission a rating out of five.</p><p>Macdonald and his editors then watched the top-ranked clips, and began the arduous task of assembling candidates by theme, while identifying their favorite characters.</p><p>The team received four times the original project’s submissions, with many remarkable for the far-flung locations that astounding mobile camera technology — and desire for global fame, however fleeting — has reached.</p><p>One memorable clip sees a man in remote Siberia sift through frozen cow heads in his basement before plunging into an icy lake and declaring to camera: “What I fear the most is that my life will pass unnoticed.”</p><p>”And then we cut to bloggers, YouTubers, everybody desperate to be noticed — and I think that obviously is a human characteristic,” said Macdonald.</p><p>”But that’s not necessarily a negative thing, it’s just human beings want to matter.”</p><h1>’How the globe changes'</h1><p>Despite the film’s experimental and ambitious premise, a few powerful clips had to be omitted on taste grounds.</p><p>The final YouTube film will offer child-friendly and over-18 versions, while Macdonald agreed to remove an “amazing” sequence of an aborted suicide attempt because “it wasn’t a healthy thing to have.”</p><p>Still, despite the many challenges, Macdonald is pressing YouTube to commit to another edition in 2030.</p><p>He hopes to establish a “long-running series that shows how the globe changes” — even if the next film is unlikely to match the events of the past year.</p><p>”Maybe personally I’ll be quite relieved if it’s peaceful and uneventful,” he said.</p>

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