Happiness is an emotion we cannot buy, but that we can search for and conquer, sometimes through very simple objects and actions. "When I play the jew's harp its vibrations massage my brain dragging me into a state of happiness", says Spiridon Shishigin, the master from Yakutia. On a trip from Sicily to Yakutia, Diego the filmmaker himself starts his journey with meeting the last iron forger working on the slopes of Mount Etna. He is at work on the instrument. Then we head north where Anton Bruhin in Switzerland shows Diego (and us) the links of the instrument to space. We travel then to Austria where it is used for alpine odes to such an extent that it has become a UNESCO "World Cultural Heritage". In Hungary Diego meets the world's most important constructor of jew's harps and his son who plays it in a techno pop band. We then finally reach Yakutia and its iced flatlands: here it is the national instrument. Women, children and men of all ages play it as it brings happiness. Diego is welcomed as a mythical hero. The film reveals the use, myths and legends of this tiny instrument, spread throughout the world as a symbolic key that can open our mind and soul.

Our aim is to produce a story which has the dynamic narrative and visual structure needed for a feature length documentary that can go to the theatres and festivals. “The strange sound of happiness” is a film that can bring emotions to the viewers, make them think and discover unexpected people and places while leading them towards an atmosphere of happiness, often thought unreachable without a huge “conquest” at the emotional and economical level. This is why we are working to put together a strong international team of co-producers, starting with Germany and Russia.

My role is to lead a musical journey of discovery into the hidden world of a small piece of iron, from the narrow rail tracks of my home Sicily to the broad flatlands of Siberia. My movements do not ever follow a geographical logic but rather develop on the base of what pleases me and what my fears dictate to me. I like defining the film as a true ‘road movie of the mind’. A journey of encounters with persons, places, myths and legends that clear up, and sometimes arouse doubts, on some of the basic aspects of life.
Diego Pascal Panarello

Diego Pascal Panarello
Diego Pascal Panarello
Diego Pascal Panarello
Director of photography
Matteo Cocco (Italia), Diego Pascal Panarello (Sicilia/Piemonte)
Film Editor
Carmen Kirchweger
Altri credits
Andrea Bajani (Script editor, Piemonte), Fotogramma 25 (Animazioni, Piemonte), Stefano Tealdi (Supervisore alla produzione, Piemonte). Isabella Parodi (Segretaria di produzione).
Production Director
Marco Torrisi
Organizzatore generale
Milena Zulianello
Executive production
Elena Filippini
Edoardo Fracchia (Piemonte), Jorg Bundschuch (Germania)
Stefilm International (Torino) - Kick Film (Monaco - DE)
con il sostegno di Film Commission Torino Piemonte e Regione Piemonte (Piemonte Doc Film Fund - Fondo regionale per il documentario - sviluppo giugno 2013 E produzione dicembre 2014), Film Commission Regione Sicilia, Federal Film Fund (Germania), Film Fund Baviera (Germania), YLE (Finlandia – New Cinema) e con il sostegno del MIBACT (interesse culturale, opera prima e seconda).
Edoardo Fracchia (Stefilm International)
Last update: 24 April 2018