We take in a screening of Moore's new documentary plus a Q&A session after the film
In his 20-year career as a documentarian, Michael Moore has shown us things that many of us hadn't seen before... which are things that the higher-ups of America hadn't wanted us to see before. 20 years ago Moore made his debut with the hit documentary Roger & Me, but he shot to worldwide acclaim (and infamy, really) with the poignant documentaries Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and his most recent film Sicko, although I'm still partial to his least-visible film, his Roger & Me follow-up, Big One .
Moore has returned with a brand new documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, which will be released in New York City and Los Angeles on September 23, and will expand nationwide on October 2. I was invited to an advanced screening of the film (CLICK HERE to read my full review of the film), and not only did we get to see the film early, but we were joined by the director himself, Michael Moore, who introduced the film and then stuck around for an hour afterwards and answered questions from those in attendance. During his opening remarks, he made an interesting remark that, despite the whirlwind of flak he constantly receives, he has asked his detractors to put their money where their mouth is... or rather, he'll put his money where their mouths are.
"Back in Fahrenheit 9/11, I had actually hired the New Yorker's fact-checkers to fact-check the film before we put it out, because I wanted to make sure everything was solid and I knew what I was going to get," Moore told the crowd gathered in Westwood's Mann Bruin theater. "So I started that process for every film and I started offering $10,000 to anyone who could find one single fact in the film that wasn't true. I still have the $10,000 from Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko, and I'll offer the same to you tonight," Moore continued, which drew a round of applause.
After the film, which drew a standing ovation for several minutes from the sizable crowd, Moore took some time out to answer some questions from not only the fans, but also from Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, who joined moderated the Q&A.
Michael Moore Q&A
Arianna Huffington: Of all the things you discovered, what shocked you the most when you started?
Michael Moore: Geez, I don't think I'm shocked by much anymore. There was a scene that I didn't put in the movie, where I interviewed a bank robber, who was hired by all these big banks to advise them on how to prevent bank robberies. I thought, well maybe since Obama has brought these versions of bank robbers in, the people who actually helped create this mess, to advise him on how to un-f*&k it up. So I'm hoping maybe that's the reason they're there, but I realize the truth is probably closer to the fact that Obama couldn't understand what a derivative was either and he was told these were the smart guys, so let's bring them in. So, it's disheartening to see these three man in charge of our economy. The things that were shocking to me were the airline pilots and how much they make, the "dead peasants" insurance.
You had said there was a part in this film that was done for, "an audience of one," so will you tell us about that audience of one?
Michael Moore: When I put the scene in about Obama getting all that money - when it looked like he was going to win, all these Wall Street firms and these banks started throwing all this money at him - I put the thing in there about Goldman Sachs being his number one private contributor and I thought when I was doing that, I said, 'You know, I'm really not doing this for the general audience. I'm doing it for Obama to see it. I'm doing it for an audience of one because I want him to know, that we know, and I want him to know that I'm telling everybody else.' As much as I admire and love the guy, I want to put him on notice that if he doesn't do what's in our best interests, if he sides with Wall Street, this organized crime family of banks and investment firms - I mean, really, we talk about Bernie Madoff and his ponzi scheme, that's what they do every day. If he doesn't side with us, and he sides with them, the next film will make the stuff I did about Bush, seem like a Disney movie.
Tell us about the use of fear that you talk about in your films.
Michael Moore: Well, this is a theme that I've been exploring for the past few films, really since Bowling for Columbine, when I was trying to figure out why we have 220 million guns in our homes, and I don't think it's all because of pheasants. I can't remember the exact statistic, but something like 80 percent of those guns were in suburbs or in all-white sections of town. So why were white people buying all these guns? So in that film I explored this manipulative fear that is created about the black man and African-American's in general, where white people felt like they had better be armed or someone could come in and hurt them. I just think it's one of the genius things that the right and the wealthy have done. They have realized just what a bunch of scaredy-cats we are as Americans. They say Boo and we jump. I'm not quite sure why that is. I think it's something about our American nature and I think they know that about us and I think that with this bailout, there were more than a few of us who were thinking, 'Oh my God. What if this was actually true?' How many people actually thought about going to the bank or the ATM and getting out as much money as they could that weekend because there might not be a bank on Monday? (Note: about five people raised their hands)
You've said that the goal has fallen short before and my question is what do you think the disconnect is between the excitement and the desire for change that we feel as an audience when we watch one of your movies and the actual change happening, and what can we do to bridge that gap?
Michael Moore: That's a very good question, and I have talked about that in the past and wondered what really is the point of all this. I think the disconnect isn't really a disconnect because Fahrenheit 9/11 couldn't change enough people's minds in a four-month period, but it was one of the first salvos fired at this lying administration. It gave permission, I think, for other people to go ahead and try it, but somebody has to get it going. People forget that in the first year of the war, when the war started, to do something like Fahrenheit 9/11, well, you know, I was booed off the Oscar stage, five days into the war, because I said something that I thought was kind of simple and people started booing. I remember feeling very alone. I remember Al Franken supported the war, Keith Olberman did. I remember Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who were funding Fahrenheit 9/11, having arguments with them because they supported the war. It's kind of been forgotten how lonely it was, at work, in your neighborhood, in your own families, if you were opposed to the war at the beginning. There was something unpatriotic about you. But the good news is, the American people, when presented with the truth, will just about always do the right thing. We are good at our core, but we are just sometimes slow learners. It doesn't happen four months after a movie, but that was his highest approval rating. He never ever went above that rating again after Fahrenheit 9/11, and remember he hardly won, with one state and 100,000 votes in Ohio, the smallest margin for any President running for re-election was elected by. I think, eventually, things do happen. I wish that things would've been happening then and they're happening now. I don't get discouraged by that.
Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story will be released in New York City and Los Angeles on September 23 and will open in the rest of the country - in Moore's widest release to date - on October 2. If you want to learn more about Moore, his work or how to get involved yourself, you can go to Moore's website at MichaelMoore.com for a lot of other information on the film and much much more.