The Woods Hole Public Library is starting its winter film series with a film that stands as a classic in documentary film-making. As usual, our licensing agreement does not allow the title to be named in publicity, so potential viewers must play a guessing game with the following clues and descriptions.
This film, which lasts 66 minutes, was originally produced in 1968, and re-released in 2018, when Kartemquin Films, the original producers, received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation for a new restoration of the original 16mm print. They collaborated with Argot Pitcures on a 50th Anniversary release of the film in US theaters.
The film is based on interviews by two nuns who trekked around Chicago asking people the seemingly simple question “Are you happy?” The nuns interviewed a variety of individuals ranging from hippie musicians to intellectuals, whose responses are everything from the mundane to the spiritual. They even interviewed Stepin Fetchit, considered to be the first black actor to have a successful film career, who stated that he was indeed happy. The humor and sadness of the nuns’ encounters lift the film beyond its interview format to a serious and moving inquiry into the concerns of contemporary man, and also into the circumstances in which people will actually express their concerns. The directors of the film met at the University of Chicago where they had studied the French Film Chronique d’un été (“Chronicle of a Summer ) filmed in 1960, which stands as the model in interviewing to get people to respond honestly and “be themselves”. Also noteworthy, this film earned Philip Glass his first film credit for a musical score.
To better serve its patrons, the Library will be showing the film twice, first on Monday, January 28 at 7 PM, then again on Wednesday, January 30 at 1 PM. Both showings are entirely free and open to the public.
If people cannot guess the name of the film, or if it is perhaps too obscure, please call the Library’s phone at 508-548-8961.