Documentary on Bentley University Dean Daniel Everett Wins European Jury Prize at Acclaimed International Festival of Audiovisual Programs in France
A documentary about the life and research of Daniel Everett, dean of arts and sciences at Bentley University, has captured international attention at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world for television documentaries. Grammar of Happiness — which chronicles Everett’s 30-year journey to understand the people and language of the Amazonian Pirahã tribe — won the Jury of Young Europeans Prize at the International Festival of Audiovisual Programs (FIPA), held January 23 to 29 in Biarritz, France. The award is given by 13 European Union students for the best documentary of the festival in the competitive “Reportages and Current Affairs” category.
“The fact that this documentary was the favorite of young people from so many different countries is the greatest award I can imagine.” says Dean Everett. ”As Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley my greatest goal is to help young people think in new ways about the world. This recognition of my life’s work could not please me more.”
Starting as a Christian missionary, Everett dedicated seven years over the course of three decades to living among the Pirahã people of Brazil. His original focus grew into an in-depth study of their singular language and culture, which includes no words for numbers or colors, no sense of the distant past, no concern for the future and no need for his God. His research and conclusions have challenged some conventional wisdom in modern linguistics.
The film will air worldwide in the latter part of 2012, in the U.S. on the Smithsonian Channel, and on Arte France and Australian Broadcasting Corporation, among others. A special showing at Bentley University is planned for April 11, 2012.
Grammar of Happiness is a production of Essential Media and Entertainment, produced, co-directed and co-written by Michael O'Neill; co-produced by Pedro Novaes; and co-directed and shot by Randall Wood for broadcasters Smithsonian Networks, ABC Australia and Arte France.
In addition to 14 years in university administration, Everett is an extraordinarily accomplished scholar, with much of his research centering on the study of the Pirahã people. He has published over 90 articles and six books, the latest of which are Language: The Cultural Tool, published by Pantheon Books, and Linguistic Fieldwork: A Student Guide, a textbook published by Cambridge University Press. His 2008 book, Don’t Sleep There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle, is published in six languages. Profiles about his research have been published in The New Yorker, New Scientist, GEO Magazine, Gehirn & Geist, Scientific American Mind and Science News.
Please click here to see a trailer for the documentary Grammar of Happiness.