FILM REVIEW: The Happy Film – International Premiere HotDocs 2016 (in progress)

Last updated: TUES May 10 2016 9:20 PM

By Glenda MacDonald

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****REVIEW IN PROGRESS**** I found this film so fascinating that I’m doing additional research to provide useful external links. This is an enhanced-content review which I’ll expand as I ponder the ideas which were presented. You can watch me write it, and I’ll tweet the link when done! I’m giving The Happy Film a ‘full bouquet” rating.

(USA) International Premiere (92 minutes)

The Happy Film at Hot Docs 2016

Co-Directors Stefan Sagmeister and Ben Nabors address questions from the audience at #TheHappyFilm Canadian premiere.  Emceed by Gabor Pertic of #HotDocs2016

FILM FESTIVAL: Hot Docs Film Festival, Toronto ON. North America’s largest documentary festival, conference, and market. April 28 to May 8 2016.  #HotDocs16
GM Note: I attended Monday May 2 10 AM showing at TIFF Bell Lightbox

SYNOPSIS: The Happy Film. Art project meets self-improvement quest as graphic designer guru Stefan Sagmeister drives to shape himself into a happier, more fulfilled person through a dedicated mix of meditation, therapy, and drugs.( Festival program.)

Co-Directors of The Happy Film at #HotDocs2016 Premiere Toronto Stefan Sagmeister and Ben Nabors

Meeting Co-Directors of The Happy Film at #HotDocs2016 Premiere Toronto:  Stefan Sagmeister and Ben Nabors for further happy chats.

CO-DIRECTORS: I met with Co-directors Stefan Sagmeister and Ben Nabors after the film. Third former co-director was Hillman Curtis.

Imagine yourself on a motorcycle on an open road. Your MP3 player is streaming your favourite music as you meander, relaxed, without specific intent or purpose through towns and beautiful countryside. In such a moment Stefan Sagmeister was able to ‘manufacture’ a high degree of happiness.

This is the story of a road trip for the mind and the metrics of happiness. The first stop along the way explores meditation. The second leg of the journey is a deep-dive into therapy. And finally there is (in Stefan’s case) a hallucinogenic trip as well as formal medical intervention with a commonly prescribed antidepressant used to treat depression and anxiety.

…more thoughts to follow…


MAGAZINE REVIEW: Wired – April 2016 issue

April 2016

Last updated: May 7 2016 5:23 PM
By: Glenda MacDonald

Every month I read this technology, science, and arts magazine from cover-to-cover and live-tweet some of the highlights. In the April issue I  learned about the new Black Panther comic book series, the Peach mobile social networking app, HBO’s Silicon Valley show and the new gig economy for comedy, how terrorists use social media for audience engagement and branding, and about people whose brains lack episodic memory.

Here’s a recap of my tweets with a few further comments.

Oh the excitement when the magazine arrives in the mail! Yes, I could be reading the digital version but I still like this one in hard copy. I like to search the internet for articles to share from each issue. I got off to an auspicious start when the first article I found online seemed to not be available through issuu. That’s fine as I could have been logged in and reading digital version, I but wanted to see what was publicly shareable for my tweets. You’ve gotta love the page error response issuu included at the bottom of the page!

I’m a big fan of the Marvel Universe. The article about the new Black Panther comic series was fascinating mainly due to the interview with the novelist-now-comic-book writer Ta-Neshi Coates. This sent me off  exploring the subject further and I found another article in Fast Company from the point of view of the artist working with the writer.

When I got to page 37 I saw a tiny reference to a new social media app called Peach. I investigated it further and thought it sounded like something creative that I’d like to try.  Here were my initial thoughts about it the app. I’m a sucker for a good pun and this app seems quite “peachy”. I am planning to make space for the app on my HTCOne so I can try the app and review it.

Next up I found an article by one of my favorite tech writers and an editor of Wired, Clive Thompson. Thoughtful overview of the state of emoji use as part of language today.

The next article that caught my attention was the cover story about the fratboy actors of the HBO’s Silicon Valley. This was a very informative article about not just this group of talented comedic actors but also the whole shift towards the gig economy for those in the humour/entertainment industry, new definitions of success, and how today’s talent is increasingly taking control of their multi-channel audiences directly. The concept of the show is also interesting to me.

Then on to a more ominous article – Why ISIS is Winning the Social Media War – and How to Fight Back. This article takes a step away from the horrific and focuses on the actual methodologies and metrics that terrorist groups are using to achieve their goals of conscripting participants into their armies and controlling their ‘brand’ by what and how they share their messages. Many of the social media ideas can be used successfully by individuals and organizations with more positive goals so there are many insights to be found here.

As I approached the end of the April issue I found the story which had the most impact on me personally: In A Perpetual Present, about a woman who has never experienced episodic memory. The story including an interview and background research was delicately written by Erika Hayasaki who provided a real window into how it’s possible for someone who is always living in the present to cope and feel like they are living a full life. Erika also touched on other memory extremes and the research that has uncovered a small group of people who experience the world in a very different way than most of us do. Because I write reviews, memoir, and fiction I’m constantly mining my memory banks for old visual memories, bits of conversations, contexts, etc. to weave colourful tidbits into my stories. I was horrified at the prospect of living a life with no cushion of memory, no stories from your past that you reflect upon and share with others. But I also studied science and psychology in my undergrad, and the behavioural scientist in me was absolutely fascinated.  I highly recommend this fascinating read.

So that’s a wrap! The April issue review is done. I last tweeted about it on April 8th and was in great anticipation of the May issue which has now arrived! Let the tweeting begin!

Up next: MAGAZINE REVIEW: Wired – May 2016 issue