Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 MFF Film #12 - Happy

USA, 2011
Portuguese/Bengali/Danish/Japanese/English with English subtitles
Director: Roko Belic

The concept of "happiness" is subjective; what makes one person happy may be totally different from another's idea of bliss. But Roko Belic, the director of the documentary, Happy, examines the scientific study of happiness and why some cultures are more happier than others, regardless of economic or environmental conditions.

Happy features interviews with scientists who have studied the psychological and physical elements that make up the feeling of being happy, and also features people from around the world who are happy, despite not having the advantages that the average American believes would take to make someone happy. Whether it is a rickshaw driver in India, African Bushmen or a former beauty queen in Texas who suffered a horrifying and disfiguring accident, the common factor is having a support system, and being surrounded by people who care.  In fact, despite being a war-torn island, the citizens of Okinawa, who generally work long and hard years as farmers, have the world's largest concentration of people who live to be over 100, possibly because they gather together as a vibrant and active community.  It's no surprise that Japan has been found to be the least happy among the world's highest-economy countries, where a phenomenon of people actually working themselves to death has been occurring at an alarming rate.  The moral of this story is the other main suggestion for achieving happiness: find time to do what you love.

Happy is an exhaustively researched documentary that takes common sense and expands upon it by showing (at times, surprising) examples of people who personify happiness and by backing up their thesis through scientific theory and physiological evidence.  Frankly, the subject mater wasn't the most interesting for me, but I can definitely recognize Happy as a first-rate documentary.

MFF Ballot Rating: 4 out of 5

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