Roscommon woman’s video features in Ridley Scott’s ‘Life in a Day’

A Roscommon director was the only Irish entrant selected to be part of the Ridley Scott produced documentary film ‘Life in a Day 2020’, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this month.

Ann-Marie Brennan from Roscommon town was chosen from over 324,000 entries to be included in the crowd-sourced documentary by Scott’s RSA Films. The production is a sequel to the hugely successful ‘Life in a Day 2010’ and premiered at the virtual Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

Entrants were asked to shoot footage on July 25th last year, which was an emotional day for the Brennan family, as Ann-Marie explains: “As it turned out, my uncle Bertie, who was a huge film buff, passed away just the day before and July 25th was his 88th birthday,” she said.

Ann-Marie decided to proceed with her filming and captured scenes from Bertie’s wake as well as Smyth’s Funeral Home in Roscommon.

So moving was the footage, which featured singing from family members including Ann-Marie’s 86-year-old uncle Frank, that one editor described it as being “central to the overall emotional roller coaster journey of the film”.

Ann-Marie, who has produced documentaries for RTÉ and TV3 in the past, said she was “chuffed and overwhelmed” that her footage was chosen for the documentary.

“I was a bit nervous about submitting something for the 2010 documentary but in 2020 I just though I’d send something in on the date (July 25th). I didn’t know what was going to be happening but I had my mind made up that I would submit something anyway.

“I was overwhelmed when the producers came and asked me had I got all the release forms for the footage. I went and asked Patrick Smyth if he’d be kind enough to release the footage and he said it was Ok.

“I have been filming all my adult life and I’ve even produced a few things for RTÉ and a documentary about Savita Halappanavar for TV3 but I was really chuffed that Ridley Scott’s production team picked up on this. After taking a break from it for a few years, it’s a nice way to make a return to filming!”

After the 324,000 global entries for a ‘Life in a Day 2020’ were whittled down, they were viewed by director Kevin MacDonald (The Mauritanian, Touching the Void, The Last High King of Scotland), and a team of three editors. One of the editors, Nse Asuquo singled out Ann-Marie’s footage as being pivotal to their approach.

Describing the Roscommon funeral footage with singing as being “quite a heavy subject”, Nse said the scene “talked to us about what we’re going through as human beings – the depths of things we are going through and also the lightness”.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on February 1st and had its world premier on YouTube February 6th. It has already amassed over 8 million views.

Life in a Day 2020 was produced by Ridley Scott’s RSA Films and directed by Kevin Mac Donald. You can view the complete documentary on YouTube.