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A bold new documentary titled The Economics of Happiness has been drawing notable praise globally for its championing of localization as the counterbalance to globalization unbound.

The film made its Australian debut at The Ideas Festival recently in Brisbane and will be launching in Sydney at 6:30pm on Thursday May 5th at the College of Fine Arts in Paddington. Director Helena Norberg-Hodge will be on guest panel taking questions afterward.

The director describes herself as an expert of the global economy on local culture and agriculture. While some American reviewers have predicted an Oscar for Best Documentary, others have said that this will do for the localization/globalization schism what An Inconvenient Truth did for our understanding of climate change.

It’s risky praise, given that even though environmental chaos directly threatens privileged self-interest, scientific experts agree that Western nations are still moving far too slowly and erratically to make significant change. So what can another documentary about global injustice really do for the impoverished and disadvantaged of the world?

“Localization is about connection,” says Norberg-Hodge. “It is about re-establishing our interdependence with others as well as with the natural world around us. And this connection is fundamental to our very happiness.”

While the film does cover some ground familiar to the anti-globalization campaigners of last decade, it aims to go beyond what is known, exploring deeper relationships between corporations and governments. The second half of the film has a more positive intent – namely to consider just what localization means and how it will be realized in an uncertain future, complicated by energy crises, food shortages, and environmental breakdown.

“As the price of energy escalates and as the global economy becomes even more destabilized, we will have no choice but to turn to each other. If we start now, instead of waiting for further collapse, we will have a better chance of building up more diversified and thriving local economies, and we will be happier for it.”

See www.theeconomicsofhappiness.org for more information or check local independent cinemas.

By Roger Hanney