A long time ago on February 11th it was World Happy Day. To cut a long story short (and going back even further) in September 2011 I met Eiji Han Shimizu in Ubud, Bali, who had just finished traveling the world interviewing people about happiness and producing the internationally acclaimed documentary Happy. I was desperate to see the film and on February 11th they released it for one day only to be shown in 60 countries around the world. In Laos we showed it three times, to young people who have been involved in my research, to students and people working in civil society and to a group of interested ex-pats. At the first showing we stopped the film every five minutes and a couple of amazing translators explained what was going on – increasing the time from 1 hour + 15 minutes to nearly 2 hours – and it still held everyone’s attention right to the end. After each showing there was animated discussion and debate about the nature of happiness.
After the day the conversations continued. In particular I talked to the inspirational happiness advocate Sombath Somphone , Director of PADETC, about how it was a shame that there was no Lao representation in the documentary. The seed of an idea to create a Lao Happy short film was planted. Several other lovely people got involved including Liena from Saoban, Sam from Sompanya and Ding from Doklao and a plan was born.
You can see more about our idea here:
The timing is important. In October 2012 Vientiene will host the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) which is a forum for civil society representatives from across the two continents. We believe that this film will provide an opportunity for people to consider what development should be about…and suggest the possibility that one of development’s ultimate goals might be happiness.
This is truly a community project with many partners and supporters in different organizations and locations and with a small core group of people with a particular interest in the topic who are coordinating the process. In the first stage, we asked individuals and organizations to submit footage from interviews with Lao people, in Lao language, about happiness and we now have many interviews from a wide range of different people in different locations across the country.
So now we need to put it all together. So far, time and energy have been generously donated on a voluntary basis by everyone involved in the project. However, we have now reached a point where we need a small amount of funding to edit the footage into a short film and to translate the interviews in order to ensure that the film is accessible for non-Lao speakers. We believe that we have the footage to make a very interesting and useful short film which will be a valuable Lao language resource to stimulate discussion about issues such as happiness, development and poverty alleviation, where poverty is viewed as 3-dimensional; emotional and spiritual in addition to economic.
I hate asking for money but now I just have to take a deep breath and do it. Please click on the link below and consider giving us a bit of cash. Pretty please. The amount that we are trying to raise is absolutely achievable but it does require everyone who supports the idea to dig into their pockets and give even just a few dollars. I’m a big believer in opening up spaces for reflection and I really think that this film has the potential to do that about a subject that is close to my (and most people’s if we are honest) heart.
Thank you. If you feel so inclined I would also be grateful if you could share this campaign with anyone you know who thinks that happiness and development should go together.
And in my next post I will ruminate on how this project links with and diverges from my PhD process…