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Happy 2011

Highly Recommended

Distributed by WadiRum Productions
Produced by Roko Belic, Eiji Han Shimizu, and Frances Reid
Directed by Roko Belic
DVD , color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Psychology, Social Sciences, Sociology

Date Entered: 10/29/2012

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

As it turns out, material goods – massive advertising and marketing campaigns to the contrary – do not deliver happiness. Instead, intangibles such as connection to nature, family, and friends; compassion and generosity; social equality, interconnectedness and interdependence; physical activity and creative “flow” are the true building blocks of wellbeing. It is happiness, not money, fame, or status that allows humans to function better, live longer and enjoy life to its fullest. In this award-winning feature documentary, filmmaker Roko Belic explores not what makes humans tick but what makes us happy and what, somewhat surprisingly, does not.

The film opens with Manoj Singh, a rickshaw driver in the slums of Kolkata, India, impoverished in a way most Americans cannot fully comprehend, who considers himself to be a fortunate man. Similarly, the people of Bhutan, while not economically prosperous, exceed all industrialized nations in Gross National Happiness. In contrast is wealthy Japan where a toxic and stressful lifestyle has led to record and killing levels of unhappiness. Traveling to 5 continents, Belic and his crew interview a captivating assortment of neuroscientists, psychologists and other experts as well as normal men and women who know what it takes to be content. All understand that happiness is an intentional behavior and skill that can’t be purchased but can be learned, developed and shared.

Narrated by author Marci Shimoff, this is a top-notch production that seamlessly combines scientific data and research with engaging narrative storytelling. Highly recommended for all audiences.

  • Best Documentary, Maui Film Festival
  • Grand Jury Prize, Amsterdam Film Festival
  • Most Inspirational Documentary, DocMiami International Film Festival
  • Audience Choice Award, Mendocino Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Rincon International Film Festival
  • People's Choice Award, Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival
  • Best Documentary, Mexico International Film Festival
  • Audience Choice, Student's Choice Awards, Mountainfilm in Telluride
  • Audience Choice Award, Arizona International Film Festival
  • Best Feature Film, Costa Rica International Film Festival