Double Happy: The Anatomy of a Tragic Screw-Up

Double Happy: The Anatomy of a Tragic Screw-Up

Double Happy is an unusually observant short film written and directed by the young New Zealand filmmaker Shahir Daud, which has been selected for presentation at the Montreal International Film Festival, HOF Film Festival (Germany), Interfilm (Berlin), CFC Film Festival (Canada), Winterthur Film Festival (Switzerland), and Show Me Shorts (New Zealand).

A film of rare quality and power, Double Happy is a lovely film to look at and it possesses a high level of technical excellence. At its heart, the film is a character drama, relying on expertly presented profiles to build its story, showing, rather than telling, the essential details about its characters in order to relate their motivations. Finally, it displays a subtlety and patience in unfolding its drama, only to upend you at the climax in a shocking fashion.

Double Happy presents a detailed look at the inevitable emergence of a huge social fuck-up, the slow buildup to the moment you eternally wish you could take back. It’s been said that almost all extremely terrible, destructive actions have their origins in positive desires, and in this simple drama about four New Zealand teenagers in tne 1990s, we are, in a very shocking fashion, made witness to that truism.

If there is one particular feature that makes Double Happy stand out, it would be that it is an unusually observant film about young people, their shy gestures and bold dares, as well as the sometimes very strange characteristics of their group dynamics; the constantly fluid shifting of in-group and out-group designations achieved and enforced through secrets and put-downs. At this age, one discovers that even when you care, you can end up trampling on one another out of simple inexperience, fear and carelessness. Double Happy paints an impressively clear and nuanced picture in which the emotional and physical denigration of its protagonist slowly builds, causing his anger to mount and ultimately leading to its tragic misdirection.

Double Happy: The Anatomy of a Tragic Screw-Up

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Yes We Can: American Stories of Hope

Yes We Can: American Stories of Hope

Qasim Basir is a young filmmaker living in New York City who has been inspired by Barack Obama. In an article on The Huffington Post, Qasim wrote that, “He has inspired me, a usually self-motivated individual, to try to be a better person overall. I sometimes find myself in situations where I have a choice to do my best or just get by. And something in me refers back to something Obama may have said about making this country better. Then I realize that if I can do better in all of my endeavors and we all do the same as a collective nation, this place can actually get better.”

As a filmmaker, Qasim wanted to do something in support of the man that he so admired. By chance, one of his filmmaker friends in Los Angeles, Mike Lynch, was thinking along the same lines. Late one night, Qasim received a call from Lynch in his small Manhattan studio. Lynch said, “Qasim, we need to do something to support Obama.” That call sparked a flame in Qasim that inspired him to stay up all night and draft some ideas for a short film series. He wanted the series of short films to capture the quality that he most admired about Barack Obama.

It was by no means easy for Qasim to achieve his vision. It took everything that he and Lynch had to pull together enough resources to be able to finish the series of films. Along the way, they received free assistance from some usually highly paid professionals and raised most of the financial support for the film series through friends’ donations. Qasim feels that, “That’s why what we did here is so significant. We took a page out of Obama’s book and were successful at it. Almost like a prototype, test, or a living example of how his plan for this country can really work. A grass roots effort, people pulling together with a common purpose, even without all the necessary means, can make something positive and significant happen. I like to say that we accomplished this with nothing but Hope.”

Entitled The Inspiration of Barack: “Yes We Can” Film Series, Qasim refers to them as “Seven American Stories of Hope.” Each of the short films is about different people who, in the face of suffering and hardships in their lives, were inspired by Obama to confront their hardships and take an essential step forward. Each of the titles begins with Yes We Can, which is followed by College, Economy, Family, Housing, Immigration, Vote and War.

A screening of The Inspiration of Barack: “Yes We Can” Film Series, along with a “behind the scenes” video, is scheduled to place at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 12th at Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick St., New York City).

Yes We Can: College

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