In the politically fraught climate of Chicago in 1968, two young nuns crisscross the city in order to ask strangers the question, "Are you happy?" The answers vary: "Happiness is the absence of fear," "Avoiding people," "Raspberries," "Joy in knowing Christ." They meet a lonely girl, a happy mother, young lovers, hippie musicians, a sociologist and even character actor Stepin Fetchit. The humor and sadness of these honest encounters lift the film beyond its conceit into a serious and moving inquiry into contemporary society and the circumstances under which people examine their lives.
While Gordon Quinn and Jerry Temaner's second film after Home For Life (1966) was a distinctly American response to the pioneering French documentary Chronicle of a Summer (1960), directed by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, it had the added benefit of laying the groundwork for decades of Kartemquin films to come.