Award-winning Film ‘Agent of Happiness’ Set for North American Theatrical Release

Award-winning Film ‘Agent of Happiness’ Set for North American Theatrical Release

©Courtesy of BNB Films/Match Frame Production

Agent of Happiness, a documentary about the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan that debuted at Sundance, will be released in North America later this year by Film Movement. Cinephil has licensed the rights to agents in the United Kingdom and most of Europe as well as Australia, New Zealand, and several Asian countries.

Directed by Arun Bhattarai and Dorottya Zurbó, the film has vaulted to the top of the charts at various festivals. It was a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and captured audience awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York.

Bhutan claims happiness as its primary resource and to that end has established a Ministry of Gross National Happiness charged with creating a five-year plan to increase its Happiness Index. The film follows two Happiness Agents, Amber and Gurung, as they crisscross the kingdom to discover just how happy its inhabitants are and to suggest improvements.


News of the theatrical release was announced by Film Movement’s president Michael Rosenberg and Cinephil’s co-director Shoshi Korman, who declared. “There’s never been a better time to distribute a documentary about happiness. And aside from opening a fascinating window into life in isolated Bhutan, Arun and Dorottya have crafted a heart-warming, multi-layered exploration into the very nature of fulfillment.”

As part of their inquiry, Amber and Gurung are portrayed asking 148 questions to residents of the mountain kingdom, such as “how many goats to you have?”, “do you feel selfish, jealous, or angry”, and “how often do you meditate?” The results of their surveys are tabulated on a scale from 0 to 10.

Bhutan got into its “pursuit of happiness” mentality back in the 1970s when King Jigme Singye Wangchuck declared that the nation’s “gross national happiness is more important than gross domestic product.” His move was seen as a strategy to preserve Bhutan’s identity and spiritual heritage as it transitioned from isolation to membership in the wider global community.

Though some critics do not believe that an elusive concept like happiness can be measured, there are now scholars around the world who are seriously studying the metrics involved with such an effort. In Bhutan’s most recent Gross National Happiness survey in 2022, 9.5% of its people were categorized as “deeply happy,” 38.6% percent were “extensively happy,” 45.5% were “narrowly happy,” and 6.4% percent were “unhappy.”

Arun Bhattarai, one of the filmmakers, has been quoted as saying: “More than the survey itself, the act of happiness agents knocking on people’s doors and coming into their homes, asking if they were happy or not – it made people feel cared for by the government. There were a lot of people who were waiting to pour their heart out to somebody,” he added, “and Amber was a very good listener.”

Check out more of Edward’s articles

Comment (0)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here