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ANIMA 2014

The Art of Happiness: the rain of life

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- Italian director Alessandro Rak asks through mixed animation what lies beyond the ordinary life of a Neapolitan taxi driver

The Art of Happiness: the rain of life

After being presented during the last edition of Critics’ Week in Venice, The Art of Happiness [+see also:
trailer
interview: Alessandro Rak
film profile
]
, a film debut by Neapolitan director Alessandro Rak, continues on its unstoppable path through festivals all around Europe. Its latest stop is the 33rd Anima Festival, an animation cinema festival in Brussels, which will host the film for a few days.

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The Art of Happiness has been continuously on the move. Not just because the story bases itself on the life of Sergio, a Neapolitan musician turned cab driver who loses himself in the streets of Naples in the pouring rain, avoiding rubbish. But also because the film never stops. The spectator witnesses a number of characters come in to the back of his taxi one after the other, his intense relationship with his brother, which remains alive even when the latter moves to a Buddhist temple in Nepal. In the mean time, and as he looks through his front mirror, Sergio retraces his past, reflecting on the present and imagining a possible future.    

Alessandro Rak’s film does not seek to remain superficially focused on a life that has fallen apart or on the tale of a musician wasting his talent driving a taxi in a devastated city. The film instead looks to reveal what is behind the words, the relationships, the city, the talents, and finally the lives. The film was born from an attempt by the producer, Luciano Stella (who produced Big Sur, with the help of Mad EntertainmentRai Cinema and Cinecittà Luce) to represent the concept that gave birth to the festival he directs, carrying the same name as the film, which has been seeking to gather the best philosophical and cultural reflections in Naples. The Art of Happiness is also an example of mixed animation (mixing techniques, getting to a similar result than that used by Richard Linklater in Waking Life, a similar kind of film), which is ambitious, evocative and heart-felt, but also varied chaotic and imprecise. With this film, Rak has used surrealism, symbolism (are Sergio’s passengers drifting souls talking to him about his own life?) and melancholy to reflect on what exists beyond life. A difficult exercise.  

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(Translated from Spanish)

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