In 2015, a group of libertarians planted a flag on a tiny stretch of unclaimed land between Serbia and Croatia and announced the existence of a new country called Liberland. Under the law of terra nullius—in theory—if no one has a claim on territory, anyone can take it.
On Liberland's first anniversary a few months ago, filmmakers came to document the progress of the self-proclaimed micronation. The "president," Czech activist Vít Jedlička, was held back from the event by Croatian border agents.
"We're constantly digging for interesting stories, and we stumbled across this one about a guy trying to take politics into his own hands in a very unique way," says David Freid, executive producer of Mel Films, which made the short film. "We learned about the year of history he had before we arrived—about the disagreements with Croatia and the arrests—yet Vit continues on. I love a character with conviction, whether I personally connect to their motivation or not. And I wanted to meet a guy who started a country."
Though Serbia doesn't seem to oppose the idea of Liberland, Croatia does; the film shows Croatian police chasing Liberlanders with flags down the Danube River. Expert analysts are skeptical that Liberland will succeed. Still, Freid says that many of the supporters he talked to already consider it a success.
"To paraphrase Vit, all countries are just ideas," says Freid. "From that perspective, nearly half a million people who have registered for citizenship online have the same idea. From a more tangible, logistical perspective, they seem to have their bases covered. Legally they've done everything they believe they can to make claim to this land. But things aren't so straightforward in a region that's seen borders move a lot in its history. Your move, Croatia."
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