Five-year-old Iker of San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico, sits by his families sheep. Iker was one of five children from five different countries which are featured in the “Masters of Joy” documentary film which will premiere on Hope Channel Inter-America and other Hope Media studios around the world on March 20, 2023.  [Photo: Hope Media Chiapas]

March 7, 2023 | Miami, Florida, United States | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

A new documentary film called Masters of Joy, which is part of the cross-media Happiness project by the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) in Europe, will premiere on March 20, 2023, through Hope Channel Inter-America as well as other Hope media channels around the world. The film has been awarded the Best Feature Documentary by the Boden International Film Festival in Sweden.

Masters of Joy shows the life of five children from five different countries and how they understand happiness. Filmed in Nepal, Mexico, Bolivia, The United States, and Iceland, the documentary came about within the Happiness project meetings, and the desire to show happiness through the eyes of a child, said Lizbeth Elejalde, program director of Hope Channel Inter-America.

[Image: Hope Channel Inter-America]

Elejalde, who wrote, directed, and edited Masters of Joy, said she was inspired by the ability that children have to be happy no matter where they are. “I hope this documentary lets viewers see that for children, far from material things, happiness is a state of mind,” she said.

The 37-minute documentary project took 10 months to complete, including fine-tuning the script, inviting other media centers to be part of the project, and choosing each character, as well as post-production, said Elejalde.  Producers included Michael Moyer who filmed in Tennessee, Binod Dahar Kumal who filmed in Nepal, Evelyn Velinova who filmed in Bolivia, Uriel Castellanos who filmed in Chiapas, Mexico, and Griselda Rosales who filmed in Iceland.

“It’s amazing to see how this collaborative work allows you to enrich content that we create, without elevating costs, and allows opportunities for local production teams in different parts of the world,” said Elejalde.

Abel Márquez (right), executive director of Hope Channel Inter-America, speaks about the production of “Masters of Joy” and praises Lizbeth Elejalde (second from right), program director of Hope Channel Inter-America, for writing, producing and editing the documentary film while five-year-old Iker (third from lef) of Chiapas and his parents attend the special premier during the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) Chiapas event in Mexico,  Feb. 17, 2023. [Photo: Chiapas Mexican Union]

Scheduled to be released on the International Day of Happiness on March 20th, as designated by the United Nations, Masters of Joy had a special premiere in Chiapas, Mexico, on Feb. 19, 2023, during the church’s GAiN Chiapas event. More than 1,500 cheered on Iker, the five-year-old boy from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, who, along with his parents, were special guests during the viewing of the film.

Previously, a soft launch of the film was viewed in Bucharest during GAiN Europe event in October.

“I’m so excited to see the final product after seeing the idea on paper,” said Adrián Duré, network projects coordinator and producer at Hope Media Europe. When the idea of the project was presented to him, Duré soon saw a great potential because he knew children, regardless of culture, context, and circumstances, would show their natural and innocent way as happy as they are and how they understand happiness.

Behind the scenes during the production by Michael Moyer made in Tennessee, United States [Photo: Courtesy of Michael Moyer]

The film is a clear example of a great collaboration where each team contributes, where each culture has its space, where values are highlighted and where unity and a common objective brings about teamwork, explained Duré.

“‘Masters of Joy’ is one of the pillars of the cross-media ‘Happiness’ project, since it offers a production that covers a specific target, includes children, and highlights and promotes the value of family,” said Duré. The film is a complement and perhaps on the other extreme to the “700 Years of Happiness” series that aims to integrate the elderly in the overall project, he added. “Both documentary productions complement each other very well, giving visibility and prominence to two generations: children and the elderly.”

Abel Márquez, executive producer of Hope Channel Inter-America, which sponsored the production of Masters of Joy, is pleased with great opportunity for the Hope Channel Inter-America to participate in a global project.

Production team films in Nepal for the Masters of Joy documentary film. [Photo: Himalaya Section SDA]

“This collaboration helps us explore techniques that we had not explored before, such as documentary and cinematography, and it allows us to have access to a greater number of programs we could not have alone,” said Márquez.  “The fact that this production has been recognized by a film festival is an opportunity for the documentary to reach a wider audience, which means more people will be inspired by the empathy of the stories and the theme of happiness,” he added.

Masters of Joy will be launched in English and Spanish on March 20, 2023, on

hopechannelinteramerica.org. The film will soon be available in French.

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