Logline: Birgitta Jónsdóttir, producer of WikiLeaks’ infamous “Collateral Murder” video, is on a mission to challenge the 21st-century surveillance state. Birgitta is a poet, Buddhist, single mother of three, Internet pioneer and founder of Iceland’s Pirate Party. In this film Birgitta fearlessly pursues a dream of her tiny island nation as the New Media Haven where global whistleblowers safely leak their information, journalists publish freely and world citizens enjoy respite from surveillance.
Current Status: Production
Director: Judith Ehrlich
Producer:Bous De Jong
Looking for (ie buyer, distributor, sales agent, producer, media interest) broadcasters
Funders - Sundance Institute, Chicken and Egg Pictures, LEF Fund, Berkeley Film Fund, Roseben Foundation, Stewart R. Mott Foundation, Brady Family Trust
Made in association with: Bous De Jong, Daniel Films, London, UK, Laurent Mini, Companie Taxi Brousse, Paris, France, Gil Scrine, Antidote Films, Brisbane, Australia
1. Why are you making a film about Birgitta Jonsdottir?
Birgitta’s story allows me to explore the questions of how technology has transformed 21st century free speech, democratic institutions and the art of whistleblowing through experiments in the tiny island nation of Iceland. After collaborating with Julian Assange on WikiLeaks most salient leak, Collateral Murder, Birgitta has championed a campaign to make her tiny island nation the “Switzerland of bits”, a haven forprotecting on-line speech worldwide. This unique “Poetician”, single mother, founder of Iceland’s Pirate Party is now likely to be the next Prime Minister of Iceland.
3. The Mouse That Roared is the second film you’ve made about whistle blowers after The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. What attracts you to the theme of freedom of speech?
Without freedom of speech, there is no democracy. I studied Political Science at UC Berkeley in the years following the Berkeley Free Speech Movement which launched the student protest movements of the sixties and seventies. A lifelong activist for peace, civil liberties and social justice, I have been conscious of the necessity for free speech as a pivotal element of a just society since my youth. I began my career as an educator and see my work in media as an educator with a larger podium.
My radio production and filmmaking career has been devoted to the right to free speech and specifically to the rights of pacifists and anti-militarists. I was on the national board of the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors for 10 years representing the rights of military service members to speak out against militarism and be legally discharged on the basis of conscience.
4. In the clip Birgitta Jónsdóttir says 'The internet is the last remaining free world...Let's not civilize it.' what does she mean?
Birgitta is a member of a global tribe of “hacktivists” devoted to the concept of a free Internet dedicated to knowledge for all, rather than surveillance and consumerism.
5. Will you also interview other advocates of freedom of speech? Who else will appear in the film?
John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Author of the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, authored the concept of Iceland as ‘Switzerland of bits’, lyricist for the Grateful Dead, Cindy Cohn, Executive director of EFF and Birgitta’s lawyer in the, US Grand Jury investigation of WikiLeaks, Brewster Kahl, Founder the Internet Archive, leading advocate for global access to information on-line, Jacob Applebaum, leader in global internet free speech, hactivist, Smari McCarthy-Internet innovator, co-founder International Modern Media Initiative andIcelandic Pirate party with Birgitta, Daniel Ellsberg, whistleblower, Edward Snowden, whistleblower, Julian assange, whistleblower, Aaron Swartz, (now deceased) Internet innovator, free speech advocate.
6. What type of feedback have you received so far about the film?
I raised $200,000 to support the project. I spent 10 days at the Sundance Lab working with mentors in storytelling, sound design and composition. The film had expanded to include a broader look at the history of fighting for a free Internet, but feedback moved me towards a focus on this strong character. That was before she founded the Pirate Party and headed to lead her country which makes that decision even stronger.
7. Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I value thoughtful feedback and the challenge to my point of view.
8. Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message and audience?
Looking for funders-foundations, philanthropists, and co-production deals with international broadcasters. Will want to make film festival directors aware when time comes, and journalists. I have pitched the film at IFP New York, SunnySide of the Doc, France and AIDC.
10. What type of impact would you like this film to have?
Launch a robust international movement for digital democracy.
11. Lastly, what’s a key question that will help spark a debate about this issue and film?
Can an ambitious experiment in digital democracy in a tiny North Atlantic island nation impact free speech worldwide.