Docs

Love him or hate him, Michael Moore has the media and theater-goers buzzing about big screen docs.

Nick Fraser
August 1, 2004

Nick Fraser

Commissioning editor, ‘Storyville’, BBC, London

My first reaction was to be disappointed by it because, as a documentary, I much preferred Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine. But, you have to realize that I get sent at least three Bush-is-bad films a week. To see a Bush-is-very-bad film isn’t inherently funny for me. I found Michael Moore more touching speaking out for Flint than speaking out for America… [Much of the audience] focused their anger on the American media, and said: ‘If Michael Moore is telling us, how come we didn’t know about it?’ The answer is: ‘Why didn’t you look it up on the Internet or try reading The New York Times?’ But they weren’t talking that way. It was if they were robbed of something. The emotion behind the film is the British phrase: ‘We was robbed’. It’s what the British say when they loose a football match.

Adam Weiner International acquisitions manager, CDC, Brussels

Did it deserve to win the Palme? Debatable. (Isn’t everything?) The Cannes Jury were performing a political act, like it or not. As I happen to be somewhat partisan myself, I applaud it. Fahrenheit 9/11 is bound to be divisive – as divisive, perhaps, as the subjects that it covers. For the industry, it’s hard to say what the effects will be. The hype has been enormous – fueled by the controversy of the subject matter and Moore’s understanding of how to manipulate media. It’s not clear if this will impact widely on the documentary industry as a whole, or if it’s really just a one-off. But just by getting more people to realize that going to see a documentary can be a valid movie-going experience, it is bound to help open the crack in the theaters’ doors a little wider for factual programming. Just how wide remains to be seen.

Jan Rofekamp

President, Films Transit, Montreal It is an incredibly timely film… If you released [Andrew Douglas'] Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus, I’m not sure people would line up around the block… People will be what they always were: very selective. The problem for us is that all kinds of fiction sales agents are now sticking their fingers in the documentary film market. I agree that what Michael Moore does has drawn more people than ever before to the big screen to see a documentary, and that is a wonderful result. But filmmakers should not forget that if a film gets in the hands of a distributor who plays by the rules of the commercial cinemas… if it doesn’t perform by the second screening Sunday, it’s off the screen. The rules for the fiction business are now being applied to the documentary.

Richard Lorber

President, Koch Lorber Films, n.y. It seems obvious that the box office stampede is driven by roaring anger with the Bush regime. The ticket booth has become a sort of pre-emptive ballot box, with the film’s success feeding on itself as a surrogate for Bush’s defeat… We’ll have to wait for a different temper of the times to assess its enduring value as a documentary work. How would the film be perceived if Bush had found WMD’s or knocked out bin Ladin? Michael’s Moore’s intelligence, or luck, may be better than the CIA’s. But, unquestionably, his timing – the essence of great comedy – is brilliant. And attacking this American tragedy with such rare comedic talent really gets out the vote… mine too.

Anthony Utley

Director of TV distribution, BBC Worldwide, London Even if it’s not considered by some to be a fine film, my view is that anything that helps open the eyes of the world (and Americans in particular) to the fact that Bush was and is ‘misguided’ (for want of a better expression!) can only be for the future good.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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