An American “Pursuit of Happiness”…Where Is It Found?


It has been nearly twenty-four decades, but according to the Declaration of Independence preamble, Americans possess the right to the “pursuit of happiness” but the news is consistently filled with stories of discourse, so together Adam Shell (Finding Kraftland) and Nicholas Kraft set on a journey across the United States to discover who in this country is happy and why in Pursuing Happiness, a shift from the original intent of simply documenting a collection of happy people. As Shell states “In any tragedy, you’re halfway to happiness: if you’re not experiencing one, you’re really not experiencing the other…” and this cinema feat explores this with delft accuracy.

Pursuing Happiness begins with one of several segments dedicated to Gloria Borges, a valiant soldier of happiness who lost her battle to pancreatic cancer during the filming of the movie. Shell, together with Kraft, splice to together a remarkable tribute to this former lawyer who found life in the face of death through her humor and commune with earthy dirt. Complimenting this poignant look at Borges is a host of other vignettes with individuals whose life is spent in the service to others bringing them happiness as they bring to others such as Mario Corsaro, an Italian immigrant who changed the lives of many in Boston’s North End Varese Shoes which closed its doors more than a decade ago but not before the quality footwear made its mark on the neighborhood for fifty years.

One of the stories making specific impact is that of John Lawson, an Ohio resident who is a double hand amputee from a tragic accident in North Carolina who, despite a few moments of nostalgic reticence, is remarkably upbeat as he recounts the life and love lost through which he discovered how those tragedies led to the appreciation of life including how happiness is found in humor.

The film wraps back upon itself with Shell talking about how Gloria Borges affected his life and reflecting on how happiness comes not from obtaining what is lost but in appreciating what remains. Perhaps the entire concept of the film and this pursuit of happiness can be summed up in the words of Gloria Borges so eloquently stated by her mother, Becky, which is “You came into my life and brought me joy.” Celebrate watching this inspirational film (in select theaters) on Sunday, March 20 which is the UN International Day of Happiness!

Background information courtesy of De Waal & Associates. Image courtesy of Pursuing Happiness website. Video clip courtesy of YouTube.

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