DOK Leipzig Film Festival

The Strange Sound of Happiness

The Strange Sound of Happiness

After twenty years, the failed musician Diego returns to his Sicilian hometown of Augusta with no money, job or perspectives. In a dream he has a vision of a Jew’s harp, called Marranzano in Italian. The half vibrant, half buzzing sound of this small musical instrument echoes in the chant of the omnipresent cicadas – and in the sound of an electric shaver. After some initial research at the local souvenir shop, Diego soon finds himself in freezing Yakutia, where the Jew’s harp is called Khomus and considered a lucky charm. In Siberia Diego also meets the most famous Khomus player in the world, a generally respected blacksmith with a striking resemblance to the master from “The Karate Kid”, and learns about the rich mythology of the instrument. People say, for example, that one of the best Marranzani flew into space one night to be played by a Russian cosmonaut. Diego’s research on the universal history of the Jew’s harp merges with the story of his personal pursuit of happiness, while his journey is driven in equal measure by self-questioning, ethnographical interest and associative enthusiasm.

Esther Buss

Honorary Mention Next Masters Competition;
Nominated for Goethe-Institut Documentary Film Prize

Original Title: The Strange Sound of Happiness
Country: Germany, Italy
Year: 2017
Language: English, Italian, Russian
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 89 min.
Technique: Stop Motion
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Diego Pascal Panarello
Producer: Edoardo Fracchia
Cinematographer: Matteo Cocco
Editor: Enrica Gatto, Carmen Kirchweger
Animation: Alvise Renzini
Sound: Danilo Romancino, Michael Haesters, Sorin Apostol
Music: Bartolomeo Sailer
Script: Diego Pascal Panarello

The annotations to the films in the Official Selection were written by the members of the selection committee and guest authors. All quotes from DOK Leipzig 2018 catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author's name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.