What makes life worth living? Toronto-based filmmaker Alan Zweig, whose previous documentary, When Jews Were Funny, took home the award for best Canadian feature at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, tackles that giant question in a series of small vignettes inspired by Ray Robertson’s essay collection, Why Not?: Fifteen Reasons to Live.
In each chapter, Zweig interviews someone whose story embodies each reason. For the chapter titled “solitude,” he talks to a mother of five who goes to the mall for peace and quiet; while an older woman who lives in a lighthouse discusses the idea of “home.”
In some cases, the story being told hardly seems like the best example of what’s being examined. Is Adam Nobody and the tale of his G20 protest sign really the ideal anecdote to capture the importance of humour?
These brief sketches – often too brief – are filled out occasionally with animation, a first for Zweig. Doesn’t love deserve more than 10 minutes or so? Or duty, for that matter? But collectively, they provide a heartwarming argument in favour of striving to find happiness in life.