The fact-lover in me is drawn to documentaries but there’s only so much I can take. The ones we see are informative, even brilliant, but they’re also relentlessly dispiriting. Maybe we’re making the wrong movie choices? Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die looks at assisted suicide through the eyes of a writer I adore, Last Train Home portrays the hopeful yet Dickensonian lives of Chinese factory workers, Inside Job exposes the various forces responsible for the 2008 economic collapse, and Food, Inc. closely examines our industrialized food system.
That’s why I was so delighted to hear about a new documentary from Roko Belic, director of one of my favorite documentaries, Genghis Blues. Titled The Happy Movie, this film explores, you guessed it, happiness. The film was inspired by a study comparing the happiness levels in different countries. Its inception started even earlier, back when Belic took his first trip to Africa. In an interview, the director recounts what he expected while helping refugees of a civil war.
I was very prepared to see suffering on an extreme level because these were people that been mutilated and tortured and yet they were still alive. And there was all kinds of post traumatic stress I expect to see. And instead what I saw, in addition to some amount of suffering and struggle, I saw extreme amounts of joy and appreciation and gratitude and laughing and dancing.
So the filmmakers launched an expedition around the world in search of happiness. They interviewed happy people as well as experts in the emerging fields that study what elusive qualities elevate our mood and improve our outlook.
Throughout, the film asks,
Does money make you happy?
Kids and family?
Do you live in a world that values and promotes happiness and well-being?
Are we in the midst of a happiness revolution?