Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival, and played nationwide at Planned Parenthoods. An updated release was issued in 2013. 

“…a highly amusing but incisive examination of the fight for reproductive choice.” – Time Out New York

To jump into action:

1.  If you believe in this issue, please forward to your networks.
2.  Planned Parenthood has a great website to find out what you can do in your state and your area.

Thank you to Trust Women – Silver Ribbon Campaign for helping with the re-release of this film.

About the Film

Created in 2003, this 14 minute film playfully explores the absurdities and ironies of the reproductive rights issue in the United States. Blending found with new footage and spoofing the educational film genre, the film highlights the critical threat to choice to a new generation and galvanizes those who have benefited from over 40 years of freedom.

Playfully updating the 1950′s school documentary, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness offers up political and social satire regarding the current state of reproductive rights in a fast-paced spoonful. Found-footage, animation and original images are interwoven into a collage containing the fictional stories of a conservative politician, a young couple, and a fundamentalist activist (portrayed by Survival Research Laboratories founder Mark Pauline) along with the decline in amphibian populations and the insidious creeping erosion of reproductive rights in the United States. All linked together through a Chinese dry cleaner.

Director and co-writer Tiffany Shlain, honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” is an award winning filmmaker and founder and creative director of The Webby Awards. For this film she partnered with her long time collaborator, co-writer Maya Draisin, co-writer and Emmy Award winning producer Xandra Castleton, award winning designer Gil Gershoni, editor Jennifer Steinman, and music composer Mark De Gli Antoni (Soul Coughing) in this sharp, funny, intense and entertaining film.

Filmmaker Tiffany Shlain speaks around the world at a wide range of events. If you are interested in booking Tiffany, click here

Director’s Statement

This was published in 2003 when the film first came out:

Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness is a short film with expansive aspirations – to highlight the rapidly evolving threat to a women’s right to choice. It aims to galvanize both the generation of women and men who have benefited from nearly 30 years of freedom  and those who remember what it was like when it was criminal and dangerous for a woman to exercise control over her own body.

I have been making films since 1991 but this is my first activist endeavor. I originally wrote the proposal to make this film for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate after my increasing concern and frustration of the erosion of reproductive rights in our country. This film is my response to our current administration’s policies.

I was born shortly before Roe v. Wade and I know that our grandmothers and mothers fought hard to give us this right to make personal decisions about our bodies. While I, along with my collaborators, were not fully engaged in the feminist activist movement before making this film, our goal was to approach this intense, polarized subject in a new way. This film is both satirical and serious. We use humor and irony to open people up to this critical subject and enlist them in the important effort that lies ahead. We hope to reach a new audience and reinvigorate past supporters to continue to fight for this right. Hopefully, my daughter Odessa Simone (4-19-03) and her generation and beyond will have this right upheld without question.

Tiffany Shlain

Film Credits

Directed by Tiffany Shlain
Written by Tiffany Shlain, Maya Draisin, Xandra Castleton
Produced by Xandra Castleton
Edited by Jennifer Steinman
Design/Collage Art by Gil Gershoni
Sound Design by Dave Nelson
Music Composed by Mark De Gli Antoni
A Grottofilms Production

Inspired by Ilha das Flores, by Jorge Furtado

Narrator……Liz Marks
Ashley Adams……Sarah Mueller
Chad……Marcus Berry
Bud LaCroix……Mark Pauline
Mr. Adams……John Newmeyer
Mrs. Adams……Nancy G. Heine
Mr. Lee……Sud Zhu Xu
Mrs. Lee……Rui Hui Li Xu
Lee’s son……Benson Wend Da Xu
Lee’s daughter……Tina Lee
Lee Grandchildren……Cory & Nicy Lee
Frog……Fred the Frog
Stunt Frog……Sam

No frogs were harmed on the set of this film

Cinematographer……Sophia Constantinou
Archival Images……Getty Images/Image Bank Films, Craig Baldwin,
Production Manager/Live Shoot……Katherine Zilavy
Production Manager/Distribution……Molli Amara Simon
Gaffer……Bill Basquin
Dialogue Editor……Jeff Darby
Foley Artist……Dian Langlois
DOLBY Sound Consultant……Dan Sperry
Make-up……Corrine Spingola
Prop Goddess……Rae Richman
Lighting Assistants……Peggy Kim, David Marbry, Jill Vanoncini
Research……Whit Morris, Marti Hearst, Jennifer Fogelman, Danielle Beverly
Opening Title Design……Golan Levin
Avid Digitizer……Christine Cannavo
Video Post Production Facility……E2 Editorial
“Lulei Lulei” performed by D’Yara Irina Mikhailova

The Financing of this Film was Made Possible by Planned Parenthood Golden Gate and the Generous Spirit of…
Dian Harrison, Kim Meredith, Quinn Delaney, Roy E. Hahn & Linda G. Montgomery, Gary & Laura Lauder, Nadine North, Laurie Patterson & Richard North Patterson, Darian Weltman Swig

Founding Circle of Supporters:
Susie Tompkins Buell, Nan Tucker McEvoy, Yen Chuang Foundation, Gregory Gretsch, Jane Metcalfe, Marcia & John Goldman

Fiscal Sponsor
Bay Area Video Coalition

Executive Producer/Distribution……Tiffany Shlain
Producer/Distribution……Maya Draisin
Production Manager/Distribution……Molli Amara Simon

Ken Goldberg, David Munro, Leonard Shlain, Carole Jaffe, Kimberly Brooks, Jordan Shlain, Amy Gershoni, Sarah Varney, Charley Patton, Ari Wallach, Barbara Ely, Therese Wilson, Ina Gyemant Lillian Rosenthal, Josh Rosen, Joanne Winter Isa Hendry, Karen Keef, Ann Goldberg, Larry Hillman Adele Goldberg, Elena Man, Peter Kaufman, Chris Martin, Amy Critchett, Noah Hawley, Susan Hoffman, Dorka Keen , Joanne Winters, Jennifer Morla, Adam Werbach, Lyn Merrill, Kitka, Joel Bachar, Julie Burton, Dave Skaff, Amy Tobin, Anne Gyemant, Cate Reigner, Michael Vavricek David-Michel Davies, Jane Ganahl , Nathan Shedroff, Torryne Choate, Scott Balcerek, Laurie Blavin, Margot McGowan, Dan Geller, Dayna Goldfyne, DJ Polywog, Eiming Jung, Scott Compton, David Skaff, Cynthia Lohr, Jeanne Meyers, Michael Corey, Jay Capela , Andrea Dew, Noelle Colombe, Michelle Maine, Nancy Ganis, Zoe Duskin, Naomi Wolf, Marilyn Fabe, Arnie Baskin, Les Blank, Gail Silva, Gloria Steinem.

This film was originally made possible through the generous spirit of the following people:

Planned Parenthood Golden Gate
Dian Harrison
Kim Meredith
Quinn Delaney
Roy E. Hahn & Linda G. Montgomery
Gary & Laura Lauder in the honor of Marcia & John Goldman
Nadine North
Laurie Patterson & Richard North Patterson
Darian Swig

Founding Circle of Supporters
Susie Tompkins Buell
Nan Tucker McEvoy
Yen Chuang Foundation
Jane Metcalfe


The filmmakers extend their sincere thanks for their contributions.