The Sought After Happiness


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Mental health is achieved once human satifsy his needs to feel happy. Humans attempt various ways i search of happiness: doing their favorite activities, spreading positivity quotes on social media, as well as creating memoirs about self-achievement. Happiness is seen as something that is not given but rather earned.

One’s happiness will emerge when they establish a feeling of security and peacefulness. Achieving those states of mind could be challenging, due to human’s nature as a multidimensional being. Humans are multidimensional creatures bound to several roles at once. They are obliged to present themselves as social creatures, spiritual creatures, civilized and cultured beings and are assigned to many other roles; humans are creatures that bear a long list of responsibilities. This is how they adapt to the environment, by succumbing to the force that requires them to play roles.

Besides acting as a method of achieving happiness, adaptation comes as a pressure that constrains humans. For instance, since the day they are born, humans live in a group called family. In the smallest unit where identity and role are assigned for the first time, humans are required to run in a system equipped with a certain set of rules. This system regulates the roles and attitudes of each member. This institution tends to curb one’s perspective about something good, which sometimes creates a clash that affects one’s mental condition.

FFD 2019 - China Man

This system that applies in small groups is related to the larger system. For example, Act No. 10 of 1992 regulates the definition and the prerequisites for the formation of groups i.e., family. This act requires the citizens to have the roles and identities mentioned, before forming groups. This is an epitome of a system that govern individuals up until their personal territory. The presence of a structured system needs to be reexamined. In practice, it is not human’s conflict that is pacified, but rather the power that impacts on mental health is increased.

Society tends to give bigger space to accommodate those who need to escape from mental pressures resulted from such a situation  Spaces that are built independently or in collaboration, help the community in finding the happiness they are looking for. They built a method for the system to be utilized (read: played) to turn pressures into a means of achieving happiness. This attitude shows that people no longer see mental health issues as a form of insanity. But rather as the impact of the power that is present with the system in all human relations. Both personal and communal relations – the work-life, neighbors and citizens.

In 2019, Perspektif program of Festival Film Dokumenter seeks to examine mental health issues outside the mainstream (medical) narrative. This program discusses various responses to mental health problems that can influence changes in system, paradigms, definition and even views of mental health issues itself.

Good Neighbors (Stella van Voorst van Beest, 2018) redefines group life in an individualistic environment, through the events of the subject in remembering the past and meeting with new people. Records showing the activities of the subject, revealing the principle of role, identity and territory about the group. This film pictures that family is not only built on blood relations, but also the relationships that are strived. The principles of family are discussed more deeply through Love Talk (Shen Ko-shang, 2017). This film shows that a family can be built based on accidental meeting that is far from the big ideas about love and religion. Family depictions shown by these two films come as a pleasant space that protects people from deep trauma.

FFD 2019 - Good Neighbours

On the other hand, all forms of trauma that are emerged from roles and identities in the family institution, are sought to be detached by subjects of Turning 18 (Hao Chao-ti, 2018). This film shows how the happiness of two subjects needs to be endeavored because they were born in miserable conditions. They inherited problems that would not have been obtained if their presence was in the highest social class. Social class that has free will.

Personal efforts to achieve happiness are also shown through Anxiety of Concrete (Yunmi Jang, 2017). This film shows a memory that tries to be conveyed as pleasant as possible while at the same time pictures the threat of living space. The inequal depiction is presented in 48 Years: Silent Dictators (Sunairi Hiroshi, 2018), of the past traumas that comes back and comes back as a pleasant image. These fragments reignite object’s memories of putting up a fight against the larger system.

In China Man (Jerrell Chow, 2019), the effort to achieve happiness clashes against an environment that differentiates humans based on racial identity, about native or non-native bloodlines. This film shows Ek Kiat’s efforts to liberate himself from the racial treatments he faced. Frictions with the environment are also shown in Village of Swimming Cows (Katarzyna Trzaska, 2018). This film shows a form of resistance towards the modern system that runs in an area. However, question arises. Is the lifestyle chosen by this group of people, coexisting harmoniously with nature, truly a method of achieving happiness?

All seven films listed above represent the vision of the Perspektif program of Festival Film Dokumenter, to discuss mental health issues from a non-medical approach. These seven films can be enjoyed at the festival on December 1st-7th, 2019. For the complete agenda of FFD 2019, you can check our festival schedule.