Project Happiness

Project Happiness (Documentary) – USA

Happiness – I want more! From the alleys of Nigeria and the beaches of Santa Cruz to the mountains of India, ordinary young people lead us on an extraordinary journey to explore the nature of lasting happiness and end up starting a movement. In the quest for a happier and more meaningful life, Project Happiness offers life-changing insights to people of all ages. Project Happiness, the award-winning documentary, focuses on four teens from Santa Cruz, California. Each faces personal obstacles to happiness: loss, alienation and the everyday challenges of being a teenager passing into adulthood. Through Project Happiness, they are introduced to their peers in Nigeria and India and lectures are quickly left behind. Along the way, students engage in conversations with cultural icons from all walks of life including Producer/Director and Education Activist George Lucas, Actor and Humanitarian Richard Gere, Neuroscientist Richard Davidson and others. At the end of their year, the three groups converge in India for a rare private interview with the Dalai Lama – an event that rocks their expectations, brings more questions than answers and marks a new chapter in their lives.


Project Happiness, is a feature length documentary film which follows a senior high school class from Mount Madonna School near Watsonville, California, on a journey to discover the true nature of human happiness. Joining them on this quest are students from the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India, and students from the Dominion Heritage Academy in Jos, Nigeria.
Using email, blogs and video cameras, the participants from three continents exchanged their cultural perspectives. Over seven months, they shared personal stories, opinions and challenges, which created the foundation for life-long friendships.

Directed by John Sorensen

John Sorensen is a documentary filmmaker working in Washington, DC. He wrote and produced the independent documentary The Road to Yucca Mountain, a journey through fear and nuclear waste, as well as the PBS specials The Giving Boom: How the New Philanthropy Will Change America and the three-hour documentary The First Measured Century. He was coordinating producer for the three-hour PBS documentary Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism and senior producer of the weekly PBS series Think Tank. He was a writer, producer and editor on the A&E television series American Justice as well as the two-hour Biography special J. Edgar Hoover: Personal and Confidential. He is currently the Vice President of Production for Grace Creek Media an independent media production and distribution company. He received an MFA from Columbia College Chicago and attended FAMU, the Czech National Film School in Prague. Prior to working in film, John taught English to Junior High School students in rural Japan.

Blue Sheep

Blue Sheep (Documentary) – Spain



A magical story between a documentary and a fictional plot that take us to Villamayor de Campos in Zamora (Spain) where many neighbours are affected by Cancer, caused by an energy tower.

Directed by Noel Galvez

NOEL GALVEZ (Sevilla, Spain, 05/14/1982) He studied film at NYFA film school (New York) and Septima Ars Film School( Madrid). He has also worked as director, camera operator and editor. He has directed five short films: “Dolor” (2002), “Flashback” (2004), “Tic Toc diner” (2009), “Arturo Penne” (2010), which have obtained a few awards and acknowledgements in national and international film festivals all over the world. At the moment he has just finished his last work, “Ovejas Azules”.


TXIFARRA (Documentary) – Spain


Longfin tuna pole and line fishing, the art of deception?

Directed by Juan Bidegain

JUAN BIDEGAIN (Ondarroa, Spain, 07/20/1964) Graduate Bussines Studies U.P.V. Love the image that comes to collect what is going on day to day. 2004/2005: Rockall (DOC’AMATEUR 2006 Best Documentary, 2006 SCOPE Documentary Unit) 2007: Kardala (ESPIELLO 2008 Best Documentary) 2007/2008: Nun (EZBB 2008 Best Documentary) 2010: 0,39 (FENACO 2010 Best International Documentary, NAVAS 2010 Best Documentary, FESTIMATGE 2011 Special Sea Prize)

Free Hugs

Free Hugs (Short Film) – Spain


Natalia is going through a hard time due to her long unemployment and recent break-up. Hers is one of those stories from the economic crisis. Her friend Bea encourages her to experience the ‘Free Hugs’, initiatives where a group of people gather just for the sake of giving hugs to anyone that want them. The aim is to offer affection and warmth to fight against pessimism and loneliness. Is there a way out in the menacing big city?

Directed by Carlos A . Sambricio

CARLOS A. SAMBRICIO (Madrid, Spain, 02/06/1982) He graduated with a degree in journalism from the Universidad Complutense Madrid. He has worked for publications such as Europa Press News Agency and the Canadian edition of “The Epoch Times”. He is the chief editor at “Cinevideo” and he often contributes to online magazines like “Miradas de Cine” or “Cinestrenos”. His first short film, “The Union”, was starred by Manuela Vellés (“Chaotic Ana”, “Kidnapped”) and was projected in nearly 40 national and international film festivals.


Aficionados (Feature) – Spain


Amateurs in living… because life is not suitable for professionals: several characters meet weekly in a theatre workshop in order to cultivate their favourite hobby and, at the same time, make up for their lack of affect from others.

Directed by Arturo Dueñas

ARTURO DUEÑAS (Valladolid, Spain, 09/10/1962) Bachelor of Arts (Hispanic philology); Qualified in Cinematography. He has been Professor of Spanish Language and Literature in the Universities of Tartu (Estonia), Budapest, Mossoró (Brazil) and Lisbon. Artistic formation: Classroom Drama (University of Valladolid), Centre of Acting Investigation “Espacio Abierto”, Degree in Script writing (University of Salamanca) and a Filmmaking Course at the New York Film Academy. Actor and director of casting in several short films, he has directed: Run, run, run (2007), ‘Pucela Square’ (2008) and ‘Un paseo en Rolls’ (A drive in a Rolls) (2009), all of them selected in various festivals. In post-production: ‘Loving company’ (short film) and in pre-production: ‘Corsarios’ (Corsairs) (documentary feature film). Aficionados is his first feature film:

The Missing Looks

The Missing Looks (Short Film) – Argentina


Argentina, 1976. Claudio is forced to live with his family in hiding, due to his political ideals. The house in which they live is discovered by the militars. No time to flee, Teresa try to shelter his daughter in a fantasy world to avoid the girl look at the horror they are about to live.

Directed by Damián Dionisio

DAMIÁN DIONISIO (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 09/19/1982) In 2001 he entered the University of Buenos Aires in the career of Image and Sound Design. He perfected in film directing. He has made several short films in its formative stage which allowed him to acquire great experience in filming. It also operates in the area of screenplay writing as well as creative ideas and scripts for such advertising. His latest realization was the short film “The missing looks”. Today is trying to shoot his first film.


Unfarewell (Short Film) – Spain


In an idyllic village, the inhabitants raise hens, knead bread, tend to their crops… And guard a dark secret.

Directed by Ainhoa Menéndez

AINHOA MENÉNDEZ (Madrid, Spain, 10/28/1983) She started her passion for film at an age of 14. It is when she began recording her first short films. After graduating in Audiovisual Communication, she studied cinematic script at the School of Film of Madrid and film director in San Antonio de Los Baños (Cuba). Currently, she combines the script with film director and performance. She’s preparing STELA, the third part of the short films trilogy DARK TALES. After receiving a grant to develop a script, Ainhoa is looking for a producer for her feature film Lucky Strike.

Last Kiss In Rome

Last Kiss In Rome (Short Film)- Spain

Anna and Enrico are two young lovers that want to escape together but need to solve their economic problems first. Enrico receives a wealthy offer from a mysterious but he refuses this offer thinking his friend Paolo will lend him some money. Tragedy appears in a dark roman night to discover the true meaning of love, friendship and revenge.

Directed by Carla Vadell

CARLA VADELL (Palma de Mallorca, 06/15/1990) When she is 17, she takes a course in the New York Film Academy in Florence. With 18, she moves to Rome, where she studies two years in the film school Cinecittà. She graduates in 2010 with honors. In 2010 she works as assistant director in the German film “Implosion” and in the Armani jeans. In 2011 she presents “Last kiss in Rome”, filmed in Rome and edited in Spain.

Nicolas Wadimoff, Director of Operation Libertad, Opening Film of EKOIFF 2012

We are glad to introduce Nicolas Wadimoff, director of the Swiss film Operation Libertad the Official Opening Film of the third Eko International Film Festival from November 5-10, 2012, at the Silverbird Cinemas of the prestigious Silverbird Galleria on Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

The following is Cineuropa‘s interview with the Genevan filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff on Operation Libertad, his first first fiction film.

OPERATION LIBERTAD from Les Films d'Ici on Vimeo.

Cineuropa: Your last films were documentaries. What brought you back to fiction?

Nicolas Wadimoff: I work in an interrelated way. After two documentaries, I start to feel limited. My desire to put forward a vision, to organise it, becomes an obstacle to my love, as real as it is, for documentary. So I return to fiction. But there too, there is a pendulum effect. As soon as I feel that I am moving too far away from reality, I need to return to it, in one way or another.
Operation Libertad’s form reflects this ambivalence. It’s a fiction film that looks like a documentary.
Operation Libertad is indeed the film that most shows this tendency. When Jacob Berger and I worked on the script, we played with this ambivalence. Le film was also shot with an energy similar to that of a documentary. You can also see this in the actors’ performances. It’s almost not acting. It’s almost the actors giving the characters bodily form, rather than them playing a role.
This also allows you to distance yourself from the traditional rules for fiction…
In traditional fiction, the bar is always extremely high in terms of screenplay requirements. Yet, there is nothing worse than profiling oneself in a genre and then not being able to subscribe to it, not being able to make your own mark in it. I’m not saying that I made Operation Libertad by default because I would rather have made Usual Suspects. That’s not it. Simply, wanting to make films in Switzerland is already a strange idea, so dreaming of films with great budgets, complex plots, and tons of comedians would only mean one thing: wasting time.

So you have become more sensitive to a project’s feasibility?
Switzerland has space for many other kinds of projects. Sure, with Operation Libertad, I felt especially in tune with the context I live and make films in. It tells our country’s story. In it, we touch on bank secrecy, collusions between the Swiss financial system and dictatorships. From a purely pragmatic point of view, we knew that we could make this film here. Cast, budget, production outfit: it was all coherent with the reality of the Swiss film sector.

Let’s come back to the film’s subject. Where does it come from?
For three years, I worked on a project that was first about an alternative, then a utopia, then an insurrection. The story was set today, and I think I can safely say that I drove two screenwriters to exhaustion trying to make it work. Then, slowly, I started to think about making something in documentary form. I spoke about it to Jacob Berger, who had this idea of a guy who would film, and whose images someone would find. To make it more credible, we decided that the story would be set in the 1970s, at a time when such events could have happened.

How did you research the period?
The screenplay first and foremost comes from meetings, knowledge, and experience. Our own experiences are a little staggered in time: Jacob and I knew the Geneva squat scene very well, but at the beginning of the 1980s. I was involved in the autonomous movement, which was quite radical. In 1994, I also made a documentary for the show Temps présent (lit. “Present time”wink about the Swiss who had known Carlos. I have stayed in good terms with the film’s characters and they were a great inspiration for Operation Libertad.

Your film’s subject is not innocent. Your work is about resistance, struggle. Where does this recurrence come from?
I have never managed to detach an individual’s issues from those of the world around him. There are people — filmmakers — who do this very well. Their business is human relations, psychological or introspective dramas. But, to me, a certain social climate, social issues, are very important both in my life and in my films. How can you break away from your [social] condition? It’s probably the question I think about the most.

How did you react to your film being selected for Cannes?

I will not spoil my pleasure. For a long time, I did not give enough importance to recognition via selections and awards. It got the better of me. As I came from a very alternative, anti-media, anti-recognition, and very resistant scene, when Clandestins was released and won awards, I didn’t really know what to think about it. Today, I know that such recognition serves the film and allows you to impose even more daring topics.


Born in 1964 in Geneva. 1988 BA in Communications from UQAM (Université du Québec à Montreal), specialization cinema. 1992-96 Film director at the Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS). 1996-2001 Producer and director of films on behalf of own company Caravan Films. 2003 Founding of Akka Films.


1984 Johnny Kichenin, poids moyen (co-director, short film)
1986 Trachéotomie (co-director, short film)
1987 Ouskestekaché (co-director, short film)
1989 Yehudi, Arabi, Yemeni (co-director, documentary)
1990 Arménie-Jerusalem (documentary)
1991 Le bol (documentary)
1992 Les gants d’or d’Akka (documentary)
1993 Le temps des clandestins (documentary)
1994 Silence, on développe (documentary)
1995 Quand on allait voir Carlos (documentary)
1996 Cyber-Guerilla (documentary)
1997 Clandestins (co-director, fiction)
1998 Nuit et jour la télé… (documentary)
2000 Mondialito (fiction)
2000 15, rue des Bains (fiction)
2002 Kadogo, l’enfant soldat (fiction)
2003 Alinghi – The Inside Story (documentary)
2005 Last Supper (co-director, documentary)
2005 L’accord (co-director, documentary)
2010 Aisheen (Still Alive In Gaza) (documentary)
2012 Opération Libertad (fiction)