Film Credit: Assistant Editor, Associate Producer, 2013
A new film from Judith Ehrlich, THE MOUSE THAT ROARED follows Icelandic Member of Parliament, Birgitta Jónsdóttir as she struggles to make her North Atlantic island nation a unique haven protecting on-line speech for us all. There will be many films about the depth and breadth of government and corporate surveillance uncovered by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. This character-driven film follows a unique “poetician” and “hactivist” bringing art and heart to a subject often lost in impersonal tech talk. A poet, single mother of three and Internet pioneer, she produced the “Collateral Murder” video with Julian Assange that put WikiLeaks on the map. At one time she was WikiLeak’s spokesperson, a role that placed her squarely in the crosshairs of the US secrecy system.
Birgitta came to public life in 2009 as a leader in the “Pots and Pans” revolution when Icelanders rose up to oust the “banksters” and politicians who led their country into a near complete economic collapse. Birgitta was catapulted from banging pots and pans in the Square to winning her first term in the Parliament. In 2013 Iceland’s unique response to its economic collapse was sentencing four bosses of their failed bank to years in prison for fraud. Also in 2013 Birgitta founded Iceland’s Pirate Party and is now one of the world’s only national office holders elected on a platform of Internet freedom.
Our “poetician” is a woman who lives at the rare intersection of poetry and politics. She grew up, found community and blossomed as a global citizen/artist in cyberspace beginning in the 1980’s experimenting with punk music and poetry. A Buddhist and activist, she founded the Free Tibet Movement in Iceland and is an international leader supporting the Dali Lama. A single mother of three, her youngest son has mild Austism. She is the daughter of Iceland’s legendary folksinger, Bergþóra Árnadóttir.
A woman in a man’s world, we follow Birgitta and her brilliant international accomplices; cyber-security experts- Jake Appelbaum and Smari McCarthy, the infamous Julian Assange , John Perry Barlow- the man who defined Cyberspace and suggested Iceland as the “Switzerland of bits”; iconic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and Private Manning, the imprisoned soldier who leaked thousands of documents to WikiLeaks and whom Birgitta nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. When Edward Snowden turned up in Hong Kong, Birgitta quickly offered him asylum in Iceland. As the champion of IMMI, The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, Birgitta Jónsdóttir has become one of the leading voices in an international movement of digital freedom fighters struggling to institute laws protecting journalists and dissidents, to make government more transparent by reducing secrecy, and to protect the privacy of individuals who connect online.
The Mouse That Roared plays out against the backdrop of Iceland’s stunning landscape—the stark, black volcanic rock and red hot lava that reflects the powerful spirit of this island. The rich visual palette is accompanied by a soundscape drawing on Iceland’s phenomenal musical talent—from the folk music of Birgitta’s mother- based on ancient Nordic poets to Björk.
This film is a fitting sequel to Judith Ehrlich’s Oscar-nominated film, The Most Dangerous Man in America, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, the story of the 20th century’s most notorious whistleblower. Today Birgitta Jónsdóttir, may be “the most dangerous woman in Cyberspace.” Her story reminds us that with today’s technology, the most powerful secrets-keepers are pitted against courageous whistleblowers keeping one step ahead of them. In cyberspace even a poet from a mouse-sized nation can challenge the world’s dominant governments and corporations and play a disproportionate role in the global fight for free speech.
For more information, visit www.judithehrlich.com