The Happiest Person In America

ITALY: THE SUMMER 2016 RETURN

July 1, 2016

We're thrilled to report that The Happiest Person In America is returning to Italy!

On the heels of winning a Special Jury Prize at last year's Religion Today Film Festival in Trento, our film is screening again in partnership with that festival and the country's  CinemAMoRe Festival . Check out that link for dates and times if you happen to be meandering around Italy this summer. . .

 

 

 

A BITE OUT OF THE BIG APPLE

January 12, 2016

Hey NYCers and NYC lovers!

 

The Happiest Person In America will be making its New York City debut as an official selection of NewFilmmakers New York 2016 line up.

 

We'll be screening on March 1st at 7:15PM at the Courthouse Theatre @ Anthology Film Archives (Second Ave. at 2nd St.). And procrastinators are not only welcome, they're encouraged! Tickets are not on sale in advance-- only at the door ($6 each).

 

Please come hang out with us in the Big Apple.

 

 

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE ALERT

We've got The Happiest news! This past Saturday afternoon we made our international debut at the 18th Annual Religion Today Film Festival in Trento, Italy. That evening, the festival awarded us a Special Jury Prize. Within this year's festival theme of "Questioning God. Doubt and Faith," the Interfaith Jury noted:

 

      "With lightness of touch and brilliant dialogues, this short film compares   

        the <secular> mode of surveys and statistics to the life of the characters

        absorbed in their stories and their faith. Without denying what has been

        promised by the mathematics' theory, it offers a different answer, full of

        traditions, religion and life, wondering if and how the man could be happy."

 

We're so honored by this award and this feedback. Grazie mille, Religion Today Film Festival!

 

 

October 20, 2015

HAPPIEST IN ITALIANO OCTOBER 17th

SEPTEMBER 15, 2015

Americano in Italia! We're honored to be making our international debut on Saturday October 17th in Trento, Italy at the 18th Annual Religion Today Film Festival. We're one of two USA entries amongst the 55 films from 27 different countries that make up this wonderful lineup, all under this year's theme of "Questioning God. Doubt and Faith."

 

And to add to the international excitement: Our film will be subtitled in Italiano!

 

If you happen to be traversing the Mediterranean region this October, please check us out!

 

 

 

 

COMING SOON: OUR INTERNATIONAL DEBUT!

Europe here we come! This October we'll be making our international debut at the Religion Today Film Festival in Trento, Italy. 55 films from 27 countries will be there-- and we're 1 of only 2 USA films. Details Italian-style to follow. . .

 

 

AUGUST 15, 2015

CHICAGO, CONFERENCE-STYLE

OCTOBER 20, 2014

We're excited to announce that on November 14th we'll be screening in Chicago as part of the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference hosted by DePaul University.  We were invited to participate in a Mixed Roots Stories session featuring five short films.  Give that link a click for more scoop on the conference and this interesting-- and very relevant-- newer path of academic study. 

 

LONG BEACH LOVE

OCTOBER 13, 2014

We had a great time at Temple Israel in Long Beach, California this past Saturday night. Our writer/director Sara Israel introduced the film via a discussion with the synagogue's Rabbi Steven Moscowitz. Afterwards, the floor was open to a Q&A from the crowd that filled the sactuary-- each and every question and observation an incredibly thoughtful one. Our thanks again to this terrific group of people, including their Educator, Sharon Amster Brown, who runs a terrific series of events there.

 

 

 

Wanna share our film with your community group? Contact us here to get the ball rolling!

IT'S SUKKOT ALL OVER AGAIN

OCTOBER 8, 2014

Another year (and change, gotta love that lunar calendar), another Sukkot!  Last year we posted a special The Making Of Our Sukkah post, and we still marvel at the talented team that made it happen.  Here it is again for you to have an insider's look. . .

 

 

 

 **********

 

 

 

HAPPY SUKKOT!

SEPTEMBER 19, 2013

Today is the first day of Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival, and the holiday during which The Happiest Person In America takes place.  In fact, a signficant scene of the film occurs inside a sukkah, the temporary tented structure where a family gathers for its meals for the seven days of the holiday.  And that's where Lara finds Ken and his family eating dinner.  

 

 

 

 

First up, fabric for the walls.  Tom and the film's director, Sara Israel, had made an artisitc decision that everything inside the sukkah would feel warm and inviting-- a cocoon for Lara-- which meant sticking to a warm fabric color palatte.  As it turns out, most Hawaiian fabrics trend towards the cools (electric pink being a notable and overwhelming exception) but they eventually found a winner, warm but not overwhelming, and would let light in but not too sheer.  Even better, the print seemed to evoke the idea of a harvest festival, Hawaiian-style.  Director of Photography Robert Webb deemed it "safe"

 

  

 

This meant a major aspect of the film's production design included building a sukkah.  In stepped our fearless Production Designer, Thomas Meleck.  Tom's goal was to create a sukkah "with Hawaiian flair" (as stipulated in the script), a sukkah that abided by all regulations (since the story also informs us that Ken is an observant Jew), and a sukkah that was as user-friendly as possible for the camera and sound crew, who would be in there with our five actors. 

 

 

(that it's patterns wouldn't "jump" on camera) and placing it next to the Hawaiian shirt that was earmarked for Ken proved that two

our ever-present sukkah fabric

 

 

Next up, the structure itself:  A kosher sukkah has specific regulations when it comes to size and dimension, which we wanted to abide.  A sukkah is also required to be built entirely of organic materials.  Since ours was in Hawaii, Tom decided on bamboo for the poles and palm fronds for the roof (gathered by the team after a serendipitously windy day).  Because this sukkah would see extreme activity, Tom constructed using nails, bolts and staples, but covered all traces with jute to maintain the organic look.  He also contructed the sukkah as a series of removable panels, ever-mindful that, on the day, the camera and sound teams would need to situate themselves

different Hawaiian fabrics really can complement each other!  (The question remains what you do with yards and yards of yellow Hawaiian fabric once your shoot is done.  Shiri Appleby suggested making curtains out of it, then taking those curtains and turning them into dresses-- an homage to The Sound of Music. . .)

from multipe entrance points and angles. The crew was in awe of and very grateful for

all of Tom's accommodations.  Attention was also paid to heeding the regulation that

nothing must hang over the sukkah itself.  Special shenanigans went into tying back the

branches of our nearest palm tree!

Ken's shirt against the sukkah wall, on Michael Paul Chan

the camera crew confers-- notice the peekaboo in the wall, where they removed a panel to accommmodate this shot.

Last, but certainly not least:  Life inside the sukkah.  This included table and chairs, placemats and napkins, dishware, floral life-- much of it culled from our own cabinets (and some of the chairs from Tom's own patio).  Predominantly warm tones to keep that feeling of cocoon (also true of the family's wardrobe), all meant to feel like a real family having a real meal.  The food had to represent chicken (per the script) but not actually be chicken (per actors' dietary restrictions).  It also had to be replaceable take after take, always looking the same on a plate.  And the necessity for a sukkot table: A lulav and esrog-- the former a special bundle of palm and willow branches and the latter a lumpy citron in layman's terms-- which are symbolic for the holiday.  Since we shot in June, not the fall, there were no "real" ones to purchase.  The team fashioned them up from regular palm and willow trees, and we selected the funniest looking lemon we could find.  They are never mentioned in the script's dialogue, but if you watch the filmed scene closely, you can see them in front of Ken on the table.

a screen shot of the family and Lara at their table in the sukkah

a screen shot of the sukkah's exterior in all its glory

So there you have it-- the way you "fake" Sukkot while honoring it.  Wherever you eat your meals these next seven days, Happy Sukkot!

NEXT UP:  LONG BEACH, CA

Temple Israel in Long Beach, California has perfectly timed its screening of our film for their congregation and guests on October 11th.  Why is that perfect?  Because it falls during the week of Sukkot, which is when the action of The Happiest Person In America takes place!

 

All are welcome to join on Saturday October 11th at 7PM for the screening, followed by a Q&A with our writer/director Sara Israel, and a dessert reception to follow.  Here's a link to learn more.

 

SEPTEMBER 23, 2014

FUN IN KNOXVILLE!

SEPTEMBER 19, 2014

Thanks to everyone at the Knoxville Film Festival for their Tennessee hospitality!  Here's a mini-slide show of our time in The Volunteer State, which included not only the screening of our film, but also an hour-long special workshop with our wonderful actress Dale Dickey, a Q&A with our writer-director Sara Israel, a women in film panel on which both Dale and Sara participated, and a fun opening night reception (sponsored by their local Sugarlands Distilling Company and its moonshine!).  Yum and Fun!

 

 

CONVERSING WITH DALE DICKEY IN KNOXVILLE

Bonus feature to catching The Happiest Person In America on September 13th at 2:30PM at the Knoxville Film Festival: Come a few hours early and take part in the fesitval's special morning workshop honoring our very own Dale Dickey! 

 

This gorgeously talented (and just plain gorgeous) Independent Spirit Award winning actress (and Knoxville native) will be featured in an 11AM workshop aptly called workshop A Conversation with Dale Dickey.  Then watch Dale's beautiful work in our very own film, with a Filmmaker Q&A to follow. 

 

Dale's conversation is free (but show up early folks, her popularity in those parts-- rightfully so-- cannot be over-stated).  Tickets for our film block are $10 can be purchased here.

 

See y'all soon!

SEPTEMBER 1, 2014

UP NEXT: KNOXVILLE

Is the southeast more your speed than the northeast?  If so, come on out to the Knoxville Film Festival, where we'll be screening on Saturday, September 13th at 2:30PM with a Q&A to follow.

AUGUST 19, 2014

OUTDOOR GOODNESS

AUGUST 8, 2014

We had a great time at the Ballston Spa Film Festival last week.  Thank you to the legions who came out for a beautiful night in the park!  Here is our film floating in the night sky. . .

COMMERCIAL PRESENCE

The Ballston Spa Film Festival has a commerical out, and you can see footage of our film in their scrolling film strip graphic. . . So check out our Liza Lapira and Michael Paul Chan on a porch on the left-hand side of the screen, and then join us at the festival itself on Saturday August 2nd at 9PM.

JULY 28, 2014

BALLSTON SPA FILM FESTIVAL DEETS

JULY 25, 2014

The Happiest Person In America will screen on Saturday August 2nd at 9PM at the Ballston Spa Film Festival in Ballston Spa, NY.  It's an outdoor screening (how fun for summer!) in Old Iron Spring Park, so bring your lawn chair and blanket!  Even better, admission is free.

EASTWARD HO!

The Happiest Person In America is packing its bags for its first two eastern screenings.  We'll be at the Ballston Spa Film Festival (August 1-2) in Ballston Spa, NY and the Knoxville Film Festival (September 11-14) in Knoxville, TN.  More specifics to come! 

JULY 22, 2014

WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

MARCH 1, 2014

From our screening at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival.  Photo by Toryan Dixon.

EUGENE BOUND

It's no April Fool's prank.  In less than two weeks The Happiest Person In America is headed back to the Pacific Northwest.  This time we'll be screening in Eugene, OR as part of the DisOrient Asian American Film Festival:  Sunday, April 13th at 1PM at the Bijou Art Cinemas.  If you're in town, please swing on by to see our film.  You can get your tickets here.

APRIL 1, 2014

FUN IMAGES FROM THE SEATTLE ASIAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL

FEBRUARY 13, 2014

We had such a great time at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival!  Many terrific films, including our screening partner, The Haumana, written and directed by Keo Woolford.  The Q&A afterwards was terrific too-- a really engaged, passionate audience!

 

Here are some cool images:  A "screen shot," of our marketing card on the opening night of the festival, and our listing in Seattle's International Examiner.  Thank you Seattle Asian American Film Festival!

ASIANS ON FILM FESTIVAL TICKETS ON SALE

We're back in North Hollywood, CA (where we had our World Premiere back in September with the Los Angeles International Shorts Festival).  This time it's for the Asians on Film Festival on February 15th at 1PM.  Get your tickets here

FEBRUARY 9, 2014

TICKETS ON SALE FOR SEATTLE

JANUARY 28, 2014

It's not the Superbowl, but tickets are on sale for the Seattle Asian American Film Festival-- including the screening of The Happiest Person In America on Sunday February 9th at 2PM.  A Director Q&A will follow.  Tickets are $11, or a full festival pass is $75.  Please join us!  

BACK IN L.A. ON FEBRUARY 15th

Our February 2014 dance card is filling up!  We're excited to be screening as part of the Asians on Film Festival on February 15th in Los Angeles.  More to come. . .

JANUARY 9, 2014

DECEMBER 2013:  1,100+ SETS OF EYEBALLS!

JANUARY 2, 2014

Thank you to everyone who checked out our film in the month of December-- when it was viewable in its entirety as the online featured film of  the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.  We received more than 1,100 views!  If you missed it there, or if that whet your appetite to see it on a big screen, stay tuned here for future festival screenings.  Happy 2014!

FESTIVAL Q& A WITH WRITER-DIRECTOR SARA ISRAEL

DECEMBER 13, 2013

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is currently featuring a Q&A with The Happiest Person In America's Writer-Director, Sara Israel-- all part of the film being the festival's December 2013 online selection!  You can read her thoughts here about the inspirations, the challenges, and ground fish. 

SAN FRANCISCO JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL:  OUR FILM ONLINE FOR ALL TO SEE-- DECEMBER ONLY!

DECEMBER 4, 2013

Exclusive news, folks!  The Happiest Person In America is currently viewable online in its entirety!  Our film is honored to be the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival's online feature for the month of December.  That's right-- you can watch us for the month of December only, via their website.  On the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival home page, you'll see us in the scrolling call-out section.  Click away, and tell your friends! 

SAVE THE DATE, SEATTLE.

NOVEMBER 19, 2013

Sunday, February 9th, 2PM.  That's the date and time to save, our Pacific Northwest friends, for the regional premiere of The Happiest Person In America at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival.  We're screening in front of what looks like a terrific feature film called The Haumana-- an all-Hawaiian inspired line-up!  We'll post more details when we get closer, but for now, put your umbrellas and galoshes on alert. . .

SEATTLE ALERT!

NOVEMBER 1, 2013

We're excited to annouce that The Happiest Person In America will be making its Pacific Northwest debut at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, upcoming February 6-9, 2014.  Lots of fun events are planned throughout.  More to come. . .

HAPPY SUKKOT!

SEPTEMBER 19, 2013

Today is the first day of Sukkot, the Jewish harvest festival, and the holiday during which The Happiest Person In America takes place.  In fact, a signficant scene of the film occurs inside a sukkah, the temporary tented structure where a family gathers for its meals for the seven days of the holiday.  And that's where Lara finds Ken and his family eating dinner.  

 

 

 

 

First up, fabric for the walls.  Tom and the film's director, Sara Israel, had made an artisitc decision that everything inside the sukkah would feel warm and inviting-- a cocoon for Lara-- which meant sticking to a warm fabric color palatte.  As it turns out, most Hawaiian fabrics trend towards the cools (electric pink being a notable and overwhelming exception) but they eventually found a winner, warm but not overwhelming, and would let light in but not too sheer.  Even better, the print seemed to evoke the idea of a harvest festival, Hawaiian-style.  Director of Photography Robert Webb deemed it "safe"

 

  

 

This meant a major aspect of the film's production design included building a sukkah.  In stepped our fearless Production Designer, Thomas Meleck.  Tom's goal was to create a sukkah "with Hawaiian flair" (as stipulated in the script), a sukkah that abided by all regulations (since the story also informs us that Ken is an observant Jew), and a sukkah that was as user-friendly as possible for the camera and sound crew, who would be in there with our five actors. 

 

 

(that it's patterns wouldn't "jump" on camera) and placing it next to the Hawaiian shirt that was earmarked for Ken proved that two

our ever-present sukkah fabric

 

 

Next up, the structure itself:  A kosher sukkah has specific regulations when it comes to size and dimension, which we wanted to abide.  A sukkah is also required to be built entirely of organic materials.  Since ours was in Hawaii, Tom decided on bamboo for the poles and palm fronds for the roof (gathered by the team after a serendipitously windy day).  Because this sukkah would see extreme activity, Tom constructed using nails, bolts and staples, but covered all traces with jute to maintain the organic look.  He also contructed the sukkah as a series of removable panels, ever-mindful that, on the day, the camera and sound teams would need to situate themselves

different Hawaiian fabrics really can complement each other!  (The question remains what you do with yards and yards of yellow Hawaiian fabric once your shoot is done.  Shiri Appleby suggested making curtains out of it, then taking those curtains and turning them into dresses-- an homage to The Sound of Music. . .)

from multipe entrance points and angles. The crew was in awe of and very grateful for

all of Tom's accommodations.  Attention was also paid to heeding the regulation that

nothing must hang over the sukkah itself.  Special shenanigans went into tying back the

branches of our nearest palm tree!

Ken's shirt against the sukkah wall, on Michael Paul Chan

the camera crew confers-- notice the peekaboo in the wall, where they removed a panel to accommmodate this shot.

Last, but certainly not least:  Life inside the sukkah.  This included table and chairs, placemats and napkins, dishware, floral life-- much of it culled from our own cabinets (and some of the chairs from Tom's own patio).  Predominantly warm tones to keep that feeling of cocoon (also true of the family's wardrobe), all meant to feel like a real family having a real meal.  The food had to represent chicken (per the script) but not actually be chicken (per actors' dietary restrictions).  It also had to be replaceable take after take, always looking the same on a plate.  And the necessity for a sukkot table: A lulav and esrog-- the former a special bundle of palm and willow branches and the latter a lumpy citron in layman's terms-- which are symbolic for the holiday.  Since we shot in June, not the fall, there were no "real" ones to purchase.  The team fashioned them up from regular palm and willow trees, and we selected the funniest looking lemon we could find.  They are never mentioned in the script's dialogue, but if you watch the filmed scene closely, you can see them in front of Ken on the table.

a screen shot of the family and Lara at their table in the sukkah

a screen shot of the sukkah's exterior in all its glory

So there you have it-- the way you "fake" Sukkot while honoring it.  Wherever you eat your meals these next seven days, Happy Sukkot!

A WONDERFUL WORLD PREMIERE

Thank you to everyone who came out to our world premiere at LA Shorts Fest!  It was a great crowd and a great group of films.  Here's to many more inspiring festival screenings!

L to R: Brandon Kjar, Sara Israel, Andrea Kaufman Dale Dickey, Michael Paul Chan, Debra Weinstein, Ann Marie Donahue

SEPTEMBER 12, 2013

WRITER/DIRECTOR SARA ISRAEL INTERVIEWED FOR LA SHORTS FEST

LA Shorts Fest interviewed Sara Israel (our Writer/Director) in anticipation of The Happiest Person In America screening in their festival. . . tonight! 

SEPTEMBER 9, 2013

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR OUR WORLD PREMIERE!

Tickets for LA Shorts Fest are now on sale-- for the world premiere of The Happiest Person In America.  Won't you join us?

 

Please click here to make it happen.  (And if you get lost, we're Program 25.)  We hope to see you on September 9th at 5:45PM at the Laemmle NoHo 7 movie theater in North Hollywood, California.

 

 

AUGUST 28, 2013

L.A. SHORTS FESTIVAL - THE WHERE & WHEN

AUGUST 21, 2013

Here are the details:

 

The Happiest Person In America will make its world premiere at the prestigious, Oscar-qualifying LA Shorts Festival on September 9th at 5:45PM at the Laemmle NoHo 7 movie theater in North Hollywood, California.

 

Let's make a Monday Happy Hour out of it!

 

Tickets don't go on sale for a week, so in the meantime, please check out our festival listing, and see the other intriguging projects that are screening with us. . .

 

 

WORLD PREMIERE AT L.A. SHORTS FESTIVAL IN SEPTEMBER

We're thrilled to announce that The Happiest Person In America will make its world premiere at the prestigious, Oscar-qualifying Los Angeles International Shorts Festival (fondly called the LA Shorts Fest) this September in North Hollywood, CA.  Stay tuned for details. . .

 

 

AUGUST 15, 2013

WELCOME TO OUR NEW WEBSITE, ENJOY YOUR STAY

AUGUST 12, 2013

the cast of The Happiest Person In America

l to r:  Michael Paul Chan, Shiri Appleby, Dale Dickey, Liza Lapira, Steve West

Welcome to our new-fangled website!  We remain incredibly grateful to our Production Sponsor k.teraze digital for our original site.  It gave us excellent (and very necessary) sea legs back in the days of our early pre-production.  But oh how time flies:  The Happiest Person In America is now a locked film, gearing up for our world premiere (more info on that in the days to come).

 

Now that we have a Trailer, production stills (courtesy of Robert C. Webb), publicity photos (courtesy of Ann Marie Donahue Photography), and lots of other goodies, we needed a new playground.  We hope you enjoy your stay. . . and come back soon!

 

 

All images and site content © ACI's Daughter Productions 2014.  All rights reserved.

Dale Dickey & Sara Israel

Our actress and writer-director at the opening night party for the Knoxville Film Festival.