“More Happiness” / through the eyes of…

“More Happiness” seen through the eyes of Sarah Schlüssel, member of the preselection team of Berlinale Shorts.

A mother and daughter sit together at the table, eating and chatting. As is often the case with kitchen-table conversations, it is deep stuff they talk about – love, life, happiness. The mother and daughter are from different generations, they grew up in different worlds – the older one in China, the younger one in the US. Yet we feel there is a great tenderness and intimacy between them, an eagerness to connect, to learn from each other. They might not fully understand each other’s lives, or know all the details – but there is something there between them. I am touched by how honestly and openly they talk to each other.

The young woman and her girlfriend celebrate. They dance, they laugh, they are close to one another. These are moments which feel intimate, fragile and real; moments of happiness. As she speaks to her mother, the daughter remembers: memories of a love that is probably no longer there. The two settings intertwine, cumulating in the last scene; a stark contrast, the essence of a feeling. Happy memories can turn sour sometimes.

“After we’re done talking, you have to teach me how to live a better life,” one woman says to the other. We do not get to know much about the three women’s backstories – which is one of the great strengths of “More Happiness”. Filmmaker Livia Huang trusts herself, her vision and her great cast – with little dialogue, a lot happens in small gestures, movements and images. A short, subtle film that has a big impact. I feel very close to the protagonists; and I am hooked from the first second. Skilfully edited and beautifully photographed, the film manages to create a poetic, dreamlike atmosphere (we are talking about memories, after all), making up a small new universe that stays with me even after the credits roll.

Sarah Schlüssel is a cultural manager and film programmer. She is a member of the Berlinale Shorts selection committee, coordinates the Short Form Station of Berlinale Talents, and co-founded shorts/salon.

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