The widespread talk of a possible 2012 Mayan apocalypse, inspired by the Mayan calendar coming to an end on December 20th 2012, also inspired Portuguese filmmaker Marco Martins and Italian artist and theorist Michelangelo Pistoletto to create an "anti-apocalyptic" work, a sort of snapshot of life around the planet on a day like any other. Hence "the day the world didn't end" as a sub-title for their two-pronged Twenty Twelve project, a documentary film and an art exhibition, following a day in the life of several people all over the world.

     The day in question, allegedly, is December 20th 2012 - although the final film makes no secret that it would have hardly been possible for it to have been shot in one single day, seeing as Twenty Twelve was shot all over Europe, Asia or India, intercutting between the daily chores of a dozen people we see going out and about. Artists of all stripes, scientists and working people are recorded throughout in a series of individual vignettes that are then intercut throughout the lengthy, two-hour-plus running time. But as absorbing as some of these may be on their own - musician David Santos' painstaking creation of a new song paramount among them - the sum of the parts turns out to be much lesser than the individual elements. The mosaic structure quickly loses track of its overarching anti-apocalyptic concept, losing itself in a merely illustrative record of people going on about their lives, repeated ad infinitum and without ever creating the connecting tissue or narrative that would join the dots.

     This might not be much of an issue if Mr. Martins had been able to make the footage breathe on its own, but instead he seems to float around it placidly without ever finding the right way to make everything flow and mesh together; as it slowly goes nowhere, Twenty Twelve suggests a project that wasn't necessarily designed as a stand-alone film but that requires a contextualization unavailable to the filmgoers in order to fully reach its goal.

Director and cinematographer: Marco Martins (colour)
Conception: Michelangelo Pistoletti, Mr. Martins
Music: Filipe Felizardo, David Santos
Editors: Mariana Gaivão, Hugo Santiago
Producer: Renzo Barsotti (Centro de Criação de Teatro e Artes de Rua in association with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Banco Espírito Santo)
Portugal, 2013, 131 minutes

Screened: DocLisboa 2013 official competition advance screener, Lisbon, October 25th 2013


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