Wednesday, 11 May 2011

How to Start Your Own Country

How to Start Your Own Country
How to Start Your Own Country
As part of its First Look program, from 10 to 13 June the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) presents How to Start Your Own Country, directed by Canada's Jody Shapiro. A fascinating and highly entertaining film about the concept of nationhood, the season will also include two Q&A screenings with the director.


A film that asks the question "What's to stop you from starting your own micro-nation?" How to Start Your Own Country explores the concept of nationhood through interviews with lawyers, diplomats and the self appointed leaders of micro-nations around the world. 

Meeting many intriguing characters on his search, Shapiro's travels include the Republic of Molossia with a population of six people, the eco-friendly haven of North Dumpling Island, and the 18,500 acreage of Hutt River Province - north of Perth, Western Australia - where Prince Leonard and Prince Shirley reside complete with their own national anthem, currency and stamps. 

Inspired by Erwin Strauss' book How to Start Your Own Country, the documentary raises many questions surrounding the concept of nationhood. From discussions about the legal and sociological implications of starting your own country to the importance of sovereignty and shared history, the film also explores the futuristic vision of The Seasteading Institute; an organisation working towards building independent cities out at sea.

Speaking to Monsters & Critics, Shapiro admitted he still struggled to answer the question of what it means to be a country. "It's a tough question to answer - and all the political scientists, international lawyers, and ambassadors that we asked agreed as much. No two answers were the same. At first I thought this was a political question, but by the end of making the film I realised it's actually more of a philosophical one."

Shapiro will be a special guest of ACMI when he participates in two Q&A sessions following screenings of How To Start Your Own Country on Sunday 12 and Monday 13 June (Queen's Birthday public holiday).

ACMI Film Programmer Kristy Matheson says, "Jody Shapiro is a great example of how versatile and inventive independent filmmakers can be. From working as a producer for Guy Maddin to co-directing the wonderful Green Porno series with Isabella Rossellini to his latest documentary feature, Shapiro continually succeeds in bringing engaging and inventive stories to the screen."

Jody Shapiro is a filmmaker and photographer whose work has been exhibited worldwide. He produced Guy Maddin's upcoming feature film Keyhole (2011) and was the producer and director of photography for Maddin's award winning feature film, My Winnipeg (2007). He also worked with Maddin on Brand Upon the Brain (2006) and My Dad Is 100 Years Old (2005). In 2008, Shapiro co-directed and co-produced a series of short films with Isabella Rossellini for the Sundance Channel titled Green Porno. These films explored the way bugs and insects reproduce and were designed for viewing on the internet.

"Populated by genuine eccentrics, How to Start Your Own Country is idiosyncratic and hilarious." - Toronto Film Festival

The First Look season of How to Start Your Own Country screens at ACMI in Melbourne from 10 to 13 June, 2011. Jody Shapiro will participate in two Q&A sessions following screenings of How to Start Your Own Country on 12 and 13 June. Please visit for program information and session times.

Jody Shapiro, 72 mins, Canada, 2010, Digital Betacam. Source: Everyday Pictures. Courtesy: Everyday Pictures.

Further information

Frances Mariani
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2475 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 655
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