Independent filmmaker Lisa Kamen produced the 10-minute short, “A Passage Through India—Diamonds in the Rough,” for her bachelor’s degree and used it successfully to raise funds for the Sulaxmi School for Girls in Lucknow, India, which her family now supports. While biking through Northern India, Kamen was struck by how, even in the presence of extreme poverty, the Indian people could express joy and genuine happiness. This is the genesis for Lisa’s master’s thesis in Spiritual Psychology—a documentary film she is co-creating with her nine year-old daughter, Kayla, who operates the camera.
Together Lisa and Kayla explore the hypothesis that every person, regardless of socioeconomic level, age, ethnicity, career, health, or life circumstances, possesses happiness or the means to feel happy. Their endeavor to discover possibly universal keys to human happiness leads the duo on an entertaining, deeply touching documentary adventure.
Using the spontaneity of man-on-the-street style interviewing, Lisa and Kayla ask prospective interviewees to contribute their heartprint to a G-rated documentary film exploring the nature of happiness. Mother and daughter have logged hundreds of interviews to date, filming all kinds of people, each for about 60 seconds, responding to one question that elicits the essence of happiness and joy for that individual. These one-minute heartprint interviews have been filmed in diverse locales around India and in the United States including Central Park, Ground Zero, bus stations, homeless shelters, fire and police stations, schools for the deaf, independent living centers, jail, hospitals, houses of worship, a funeral home, people in commuter traffic, in lines, in labor, in escrow, and in debt—and the filming continues…
From homeless person to housewife, from celebrity to politician, many interviewed have said they never gave themselves the space to invite such a question in. Consequently, in this rare moment seized for the sole purpose of exploring happiness, they create room for this intangible feeling and find surprisingly easy access to it.
The film’s POV is through the eyes of nine year-old Kayla. Her unique perspective—literally about four feet from the ground—means a low camera angle combines with high energy and humor. Her presence, suited up with professional camera equipment and headset, monitoring her sound levels and video, seems to soften interviewees, making their revelations especially genuine. A second camera operator captures the interchange between interviewee, Kayla, and Lisa, accentuating the multiplier effect of happiness on others.
Experts and lay people alike see ample evidence that wealth, fame, and material goods don’t produce real happiness. In “H-Factor…Where is Your Heart?” real people from all walks of life illustrate—in humorous and heartfelt ways—what does.
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