Exactly fifty years ago, in an experiment in documentary, people on the streets of Paris were filmed answering the question, Are you happy?
The Are you happy? project is finding out what happens when we ask the same question in the global environment of the web today.
The inspiration for the project was a ground-breaking documentary “Chronicle of a Summer”, made in 1960 by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, which used the new technology of the day — handheld cameras and sync sound — to looked at the “tribe of people living in Paris”. That project said a lot about French society at the time — living with the legacy of the Second World War and German Occupation, divided over the independence movement in Algeria, on the cusp of the social changes of the 60s.
On the 50th anniversary of that film we’re using today’s new technologies — the web, camcorders, mobile phones, social networks — to find out how people answer the question Are you happy? now.
We want people to take part by asking the question Are you happy? in their community to foster a conversation about what matters to us in different countries and contexts today. We are bringing the responses together online and editing the highlights into a number of documentary forms.
The Are you happy? Project is produced by Mandy Rose, co-founder and producer of the BBC’s pioneering camcorder project Video Nation, and of award winning participatory projects including Capture Wales and Voices.
The project is being undertaken as part of the CollabDocs research project at the Digital Culture Research Centre, University of the West of England, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.