Updated: Apr 23, 2021
Arthur Kanegis is the director and producer of a new documentary, The World Is My Country, which airs on PBS affiliates across the country this month. It's the story of Garry Davis, a Broadway entertainer from Maine, who was so traumatized by having to bomb civilians in World War II that he gave up his American citizenship. He dared to interrupt the United Nations in 1948 saying: "The Nations you represent divide us, and lead us to the abyss of total war. What we need is one government for one World! And if you won't do it, step aside and a people's world assembly will arise from our ranks to do it!" When you hear right-wing nuts railing against "world government," Davis agrees-- "if it's the same old forces of money and power controlling our lives from behind closed doors-- the top-down New World Order. But what if we (the People) run it?" Now here's a chance to hear from Davis himself how he thinks We the People can do that. Among Davis' many admirers and supporters were Camus and Albert Einstein. We're lucky enough today to have a guest post from Kanegis.
Our film The World is My Country is playing on Public Television Stations across the country!
-by Arthur Kanegis
I decided to make this movie about Garry Davis because I found his story to be a crucial lost piece of history. It is a unique story that gives us hope for a positive future. How could a song and dance man end up galvanizing the hopes and dreams of war-weary Europe? Drawing Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and so many others into his adventure? Paving the way for unanimous passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
In the midst of so many depressing movies about the state of the world, here was a story rich with hope and vision.
Back in 1948, who would have believed that the borders of Europe would fall? Yet the very place where Garry took his stand, Strasbourg, is now the home of the European Union. The impossible of yesterday has become the everyday reality of today.
Can this film re-spark the hope and dreams of that dramatic post-war period captured in our film? Watch the film and see what you think.
My work on this film is the culmination of a mission that started when I was a toddler and I said to my dad: “Why don’t they melt all the guns and turn them into doorknobs,” As an adult, I strive to use film and entertainment to open the doors to peace.
First I tried to mobilize people by making films exposing the horrors we face. Our NARMIC production, The Automated Airwar exposed the cold brutality of mechanized killing vs. the simple people of Vietnam. Our Post-War War exposed the role of the military industrial complex in carrying on the war. And my CDI production of War Without Winners shot by Haskell Wexler and presented by Paul Newman, become an organizing tool for the Nuclear Freeze movement. But still war raged on.
Then I had the opportunity to play a small role in the production of the ABC’s The Day After with Jason Robards. I thought “this is it!” The public would finally get a visceral feeling of the horrors of nuclear war and we’d end the arms race and build peace. The film did have the largest audience of any TV movie ever. And Ronald Reagan did credit it with convincing him that nuclear war is unwinnable. But the arms race didn’t end and peace seemed no closer.
Why? Because my movies were about fear, not hope. I decided to devote my life to making empowering visions of what we do want in the world. I decided that Garry action-packed adventures were the perfect vehicle to shake up our old thinking and give people a vision of a better way to run our world! Over the next decade Garry Davis became my close friend and mentor, and I helped him shape his life story into a Hero’s Journey narrative. I learned from him how to live as a free human being, above and beyond the insanity of today’s political world. And he got back in touch with the entertainer within him, and brought to the stage an emotionally compelling narrative of his life. It has been a wonderfully expansive journey for me, and now I’m thrilled to share his richly-emotional and heartening story with the world.
It’s now playing on Public Television Stations across the country-- see TheWorldIsMyCountry.com/publictv
If you don’t see your city listed, or missed it when it was on in your area-- please go to theworldIsmycountry.com/store to watch it on Vimeo.