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June 28, 2013

A World Government Based in Vermont? Find Out About It Tonight

Garry-davis-old-new-posterFounded by Vermont's own Garry Davis, the World Government of World Citizens will mark its 60th anniversary in September. That makes it older than the governments of 30 or so of today's nation-states.

 Not familiar with the World Government of World Citizens? Haven't heard about this self-proclaimed entity that issues passports that have occasionally been recognized at international borders?

 An introduction is available Friday evening at Off Center for the Dramatic Arts in the form of a film-in-progress called My Country Is the World and the World Is My Stage: The True Story of Garry Davis. The biopic produced and directed by California filmmaker Arthur Kanegis traces Davis' colorful career, with a focus on the global authority he unilaterally decreed on September 4, 1953.

That has to rank as one of history's greatest instances of chutzpah. But while Davis did have experience as a Broadway song-and-dance man, he wasn't playacting in establishing his very own world government.

A World War II bomber pilot, Davis renounced his American citizenship in 1948, declaring himself a "citizen of the world." He explained that he was motivated by his involvement in the mass destruction wrought by nation-states for the second time in 20 years. Humanity itself could be destroyed in a third world war, Davis warned, arguing that only through global government would world peace be possible.

Kanegis, who has made documentaries about nuclear weapons, says he became intrigued by Davis' story "because most other stories are about all that's wrong with the world." The Davis film, he adds, "is looking at how to fix the world."

Davis, who will turn 92 next month, moved to Burlington about 25 years ago. The World Service Authority, the administrative arm of the World Government of World Citizens, operated for a time from an office above Leunig's Bistro on the Church Street Marketplace. Davis acted globally and thought locally.

Two years after embarking on the film project, Kanegis says he's "very pleased and proud to be involved in it." With the support of some "generous donors," the movie should be finished in time for showing at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Kanegis adds. He declines to estimate the cost of what is projected to be a 77-minute documentary.

Davis is expected to attend the showing along with Kanegis, who plans to incorporate audience responses on Friday into the final product. The screening takes place at 6:30 p.m. at 294 North Winooski Avenue.

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