World Documentary


Bhutanese with English subtitles, 2013, 80 minutes, color, France/Finland

Cinematography Award: World Cinema Documentary

In 1999, King Jigme Wangchuck approved the use of television and Internet throughout the largely undeveloped nation of Bhutan, assuring the masses that rapid development was synonymous with the “gross national happiness” of his country, a term he himself coined. Director Thomas Balmès’s film Happiness begins at the end of this process as Laya, the last remaining village tucked away within the Himalayan kingdom, becomes enmeshed in roads, electricity, and cable television. Through the eyes of an eight-year-old monk impatient with prayer and eager to acquire a TV set, we witness the seeds of this seismic shift sprouting during a three-day journey from the outskirts of Laya to the thriving capital of Thimphu. It is here the young boy discovers cars, toilets, colorful club lights, and countless other elements of modern life for the first time.

Balmès illuminates the seduction of technology—as well as its rapid encroachment—on an ancient way of life with an observant eye, reminding us how complicated and bittersweet the effects of progress can be.

Director: Thomas Balmès

Screenwriter: Thomas Balmès

Producers: Thomas Balmès, Juliette Guigon, Patrick Winocour, Kaarle Aho

Co-producers: ARTE France, BBC, ITVS International, WDR, NHK

Cinematographers: Thomas Balmès, Nina Bernfeld

Editors: Alex Cardon, Ronan Sinquin

Music: British Sea Power

About the Director

Thomas Balmès is an independent documentary director and producer. He brings us to people, places, and sharply contrasting situations that reveal our society from different and completely new angles—the Bosnian war from the viewpoint of Masai warriors, the mad-cow crisis seen from the Indian perspective, a Papuan tribe being converted to Christianity, glimpses of childhood from all around the planet. His films ask questions about what connects us all as human beings.


1/17/2014 9:45 pm
Broadway Centre Cinema 3, SLC
1/20/2014 3:00 pm
Temple Theatre, Park City
1/22/2014 3:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre, Park City
1/23/2014 6:45 pm
Broadway Centre Cinema 3, SLC
1/24/2014 6:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema 2, Park City
1/25/2014 9:00 am
Holiday Village Cinema 2, Park City
1/26/2014 10:00 am
Holiday Village Cinema 1, Park City