Marshall Lewy's debut feature Blue State, a character-driven road film about a Democrat activist moving to Canada after George W Bush is re-elected in 2004, reflects the director's life in several ways. Like his main character, director Lewy did field work in Ohio for the Democratic Party in 2004. And while he did not move north after the election, he ended up shooting his feature in Winnipeg in 2006.

Living in Los Angeles, after completing his masters in film at Columbia University, Lewy came up with the film's premise during a conversation about improvisation.

'I thought, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if instead of putting a bunch people in house,' remembers Lewy, 'what if I made a road movie about guy who promises to move out of the country if Bush got re-elected.''

By 2005, Lewy had a script, which he showed to Andrew Paquin, with whom he was sharing a house at the time and who was looking for a project on which to work with his sister, Anna Paquin.

Sister and brother both took to the material, and to the fact that it took place in Winnipeg, where they had grown up. With Anna attached as a star and executive producer, the film-makers cast Breckin Meyer as the lead and secured US and Canadian financing.

Like many US productions, Blue State took advantage of Winnipeg's growing film industry and tax credits, albeit with the twist - they actually shot Winnipeg for Winnipeg, which endeared them to the locals who helped on the breakneck, low-budget 20-day shooting schedule.

To keep his political story dramatic, Lewy looked back to an earlier cinematic tradition. 'I wanted to base it on something real,' explains Lewy, 'but it was important that everything political comes out in the characters. For our generation, it's a throw-back to films in the '60s and '70s, since it is about a guy who wants to make a change.'

While the film already has theatrical distribution in Canada, Andrew Herwitz of The Film Sales Company will rep the film at Tribeca. Lewy is now developing Exodus, another emigre drama about Americans in Jamaica, for producer Ross Katz.