Directed by Academy Award-winning director Louie Psihoyos, MISSION: JOY reflects on the lives of two beloved spiritual leaders: the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In their own words, they generously share the tales of their childhood, the genesis of their happiness, and the activism that was the result of it. In this endearing documentary of two elusive but widely-known figures, happiness is explored with a microscope, honing in on tragedy, forgiveness, and compassion as complementary themes. With archival footage and stirring animation, the story of Desmond Tutu’s struggle opposing apartheid, the Dalai Lama’s transformation from farm-boy to icon, and their close friendship is in full-view as these men display two of the biggest smiles on screen.
While self-proclaimed brothers, they exchange laughs, memories, and philosophies. But their stories are contrasted by different forms of tragedies, and they both encourage the same message of redirecting anger into forgiveness, imbuing compassion into raging crowds, and finding purpose in personal tragedy. At times hilariously inspiring and also sorrowful, this interview-style documentary seeks to inspire compassion as a means to achieving happiness, just as Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama attest with their friendship, past, and never-ending smiling faces.