The documentary Agent of Happiness is set to make its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. This unique film, acquired by the Tel Aviv-based company Cinephil, explores the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan. Co-directed by Bhutan’s Arun Bhattarai and Dorottya Zurbó from Hungary, the story centers around Amber, a 40-year-old Bhutanese man. Amber’s job, assigned by his government, is to assess the country’s Gross National Happiness level, an innovative approach to measuring societal well-being introduced by Bhutan in the late 1990s.
Amber, who lives with his elderly mother, is depicted as a romantic at heart, seeking his own happiness while working as a happiness agent. The documentary follows him on a journey across Bhutan, meeting various people and exploring different perspectives on happiness.
Cinephil’s managing directors, Suzanne Nodale and Shoshi Korman, praised the documentary as a rare find in the documentary world, highlighting its humor, cinematic quality, and the intriguing nature of its main character. The film not only entertains but also encourages viewers to rethink the concept of happiness.
Filmmakers Bhattari and Zurbó, known for their earlier documentary The Next Guardian, expressed their excitement about Cinephil’s involvement. They were inspired by Bhutan’s unique method of calculating happiness through a government survey. Their goal with “Agent of Happiness” was to turn these abstract measurements into a visual and emotional narrative that offers a deeper look into the lives and minds of the Bhutanese people.
The film, which premieres on January 19 in Park City, was produced by Noémi Veronika Szakonyi, Máté Artur Vincze, and Bhattarai. It has received support from various institutions, including the Sundance Film Institute, the Catapult Film Fund, Hungary’s National Film Institute, and the South Korean DMZ Docs Fund. The documentary has also been developed through several prestigious programs such as the Points North Fellowship 2022, True False Rough Cut Retreat 2023, and Dok.Incubator 2023. Source