The Epic Journey to Liberland: A documentary
By Ondřej Šálek
In April 2015, Vít Jedlička declared a free (micro) state on the borders of Serbia and Croatia, which he called Liberland. For some Czechs, this peculiar entity represents hope of a decent life without the burden of taxes they have to pay to the Czech state. Pavel Skála – now the Liberland Deputy Minister of Finance – wanted to contribute to the foundation of this international tax haven and so risked an irregular – and epic – journey to the Balkans.
Will he be able to outsmart the Croatian border forces? Is he going to be the first settler of Liberland? Furthermore, who does he want to have as neighbours? And why is his vision of freedom not for everyone?
Our documentary follows a man who embodies this new entity in order to answer these questions. The film shows Liberland’s vision and values but also tells the story of the personal journey of a modern migrant. However, this migrant has journeyed to Southern Europe with hope of escaping the supposedly restrictive clutches of the Western state at a time when thousands of refugees move in the opposite direction, actively seeking its protection.
When the President of Liberland, Vít Jedlička, proclaimed his new state, it caused a media sensation around the world – can just anyone create their own state? The project echoes (mis)adventure from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when lands were conquered by colonial powers that redrew the boundaries of their possessions each year. Is this realistic in the 21st century? Are there still some spaces, where anyone can create their own utopian state that would be free of the present powers?
A lot of attention has been dedicated to the legal issues of this matter. It seems that Vít Jedlička can indeed claim the territory and later adopt it as his own because neither Croatia, nor Serbia, declared the disputed area as theirs. Our documentary looks beyond the legal requirements and romantic dreams. Instead we focus on the people that stand behind this project and their ideals.
Our film considers the Liberlandians as an ideological group, which, due to its state-building activities, must reflect on the central pillars of its new state system. One of the ideological foundations of Liberland is “freedom”, not only in terms of paying of taxes, but also in terms of possession of weapons, private property and entrepreneurship. But is this freedom accessible to all? Who is included in or excluded from the Liberland? What kind off state will they establish in order to remain “free”?
- Ondřej Šálek is a student at the Department of documentary movies at Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.