Bonheur Academie (Happiness University). 2016. France. Directed by Kaori Kinoshita & Alain Della Negra. 75 min.
Uncannily melding fiction and documentary, Happiness University transports us to a hotel retreat for the real-life Raelian Church, a religious sect devoted to the transmission of knowledge inherited from mankind’s extraterrestrial ancestors. As the new candidates for “awakening” (two of whom are played by actress Laure Calamy and musician Arnaud Fleurent-Didier) spend time together at meals, out by the pool, at bonfires, and participating in new age-y group exercises, an unexpected humanism emerges amid the absurd spirituality. Humorous and moving, direct and enigmatic, this singular film meditates on the peculiar ways in which people strive to give their lives meaning.