Empire Me - the movie


    A documentary by Paul Poet

    A co-production of Navigator Film (Austria), gebrueder beetz filmproduktion (Germany) and Minotaurus Film (Luxemburg), with support from MEDIA, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, ÖFI – Austrian Film Institute and Fonspa (Luxemburg).

  • On the periphery of globalization, hundreds of "do-it-yourself nations" are creating their own little worlds. When it comes to social coexistence, micronations, eco-villages and secessionists are breaking new ground. A road movie on land, on water and in the head.

  • Don't we all sometimes dream of breaking out of our daily life and starting a totally new one outside of all conventions and constraints? The dream of utopia, of a better life in an earthly paradise, has long been a common dream of mankind, one that is always reappearing in continually new forms. To someday be the king of one's own island... But: the ever-tighter and inflexible principles of life inherent to the globalized world order hardly permit any alternatives or visions.

    There is, however, a phenomenon that fights against this: the founding of counter-societies. In pursuit of an ideal culture of coexistence, hundreds of do-it-yourself nations are creating their own little worlds. Micronations, eco-villages and secessionists pursue alternative ways of cohabitation with actual territories and communities. Over 500 have been grounded since the late 1990s, some barely larger than a sheep farm, an ocean platform, or a laptop. With their actions, thousands of free-thinkers declare their battle against the new world order. They annex entire regions of land and/or city neighborhoods. They produce their own laws, languages, postage stamps and banknotes. With populations spanning from 1 to 500,000, and with the most varied of social groups and ideologies. In Empire Me, the director and author Paul Poet – he himself a veteran of alternative networks and social experiments – takes a journey to six of these alternative worlds, each of which is an expressive and strong representation of a different flow in the movement. The feature-length film with Internet spin-off is structured as a road movie that delves deep into the heart of "foreign" social structures and offers insight to and behind their self-presentation and staging. Paul Poet and his team explore not only the widely varied visions that drive the different worlds and their makers, but also take a deep look into the shared human need that unites them: the yearning for meaning, recognition and community in an increasingly incomprehensible world structure.

    As viewers, what becomes clear to us is that today, in the 21st century, dropping out means hopping aboard. Today, the existence as an alternative world means a life as a potentized "Me, Incorporated" and requires highly refined socio-political cultural management skills, global networking, economic sustainability, decentralized alliances. And above all: the continual outfoxing of the established power systems and authorities, against whom one is in a continual state of battle. These alternative societies and worlds appear colorful, charming and quirky at first glance, but a closer looks reveals them to be sympathetically eccentric declarations of war from ordinary people who feel marginalized by the neo-liberal world order. With their realpolitik foolhardy actions, they show the viewer ways to no longer feel like a powerless, tiny cog in the post-democracy machinery – in accordance to the motto: If you're out of place in this world, make your own!

    PAUL POET is an Austrian author and filmmaker working in the field of cinema, television and theater. The son of an oil engineer, he was born in Dubai on October 3rd, 1971, and spent much of his childhood abroad (in, among other places, Saudi Arabia, Iran, London, Paris and Lagos/Nigeria) and was thus exposed early to the human and social potential for war and exploitation. A resident of Vienna since puberty, as a teenager he was active in the city's Punk and music scene (as DJ, concert promoter, activist, hardcore singer and cultural journalist) and helped found such internationally renowned clubs as Flex, Chelsea and WUK. Having completed his studies in journalism and philosophy, he has worked as a PR expert, as an editor and events manager and, since 1996, as a film director. Poet gained his initial international recognition with short films, music videos and TV broadcasts – often with the close involvement of numerous stars of the alternative rock and electronica scene, who participate in his films as both actors and musicians. He had his first breakthrough with the feature-length documentary film Foreigners Out! Schlingensief's Container, which is based on his theater and Actionist work done with Christoph Schlingensief within the framework of the Vienna Festival of 2000. The film won the main prize at festivals in Houston and Toronto and was accepted in competition at the A–level Mar del Plata International Film Festival in 2003. After almost eight years of preparatory work for his opulent second documentary feature film Empire Me – New Worlds Are Happening!, Poet is now preparing two new feature films. The first, the feature-length documentary Revolt!, co-written with the star political journalist Corinna Milborn and produced with the participation of the well-known firm Allegro Films (e.g. We feed the World!), is about 2012 as the decisive year of crisis for a decaying Europe; the second, the feature film The Minus Man, is a German/Austrian/British co-production based on the ostracized scandal book of the 1970s in which a violent pimp is the germ cell of the neoliberal age. As a cultural reporter, Paul Poet works for (among others) ORF, DER STANDARD, Intro, and RAY; as a curator, he works for (among others) the Austrian Film Archive and the Austrian film festival Diagonale in Graz. He is a member of the Austrian Directors' Association, the ADAm of the Vienna Screenwriters Forum and the Austrian Film Academy.