Michael Moore’s films have always been as much about questioning the status quo and confronting injustices as they have been about selling popcorn. His latest, Capitalism: A Love Story, is no different and may in fact be his most pointed social critique yet. To that end, he certainly took no pains to sugar-coat his message during a press conference promoting the film at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday.
At various points during the presser, Moore took aim at Adam Smith’s offspring, referring to capitalism as ‘a system of legalized greed,’ ‘a Ponzi scheme’ and undemocratic. And for those who were still unsure about his opinion, he summed it up like so: ‘The real problem here, my friends, is capitalism itself. It’s an economic system that doesn’t work, it’s not democratic and it’s not just, and it’s gotta go.’
Either through coincidence or clever planning, the presser, moderated by TIFF’s documentary programmer Thom Powers (pictured with Moore), took place on the one-year anniversary of the demise of global financial services firm Lehman Brothers. From that day on, the global economic downward spiral began in earnest. Moore said that he had begun working on the film well before the announcement of the news that shook the world. ‘Six months before the crash occurred, I realized this was the movie,’ he said.
The film sees Moore return to the topic that propelled his first major doc, Roger & Me – that of unchecked corporate greed and its impact on ordinary citizens that aren’t fortunate enough to have the initials CEO after their names. And even though Capitalism is already generating significant buzz – the line-up for the TIFF screening was predictably huge – Moore said at the press conference that there have been challenges in promoting it. For example, he says some news-oriented chat shows (which he declined to name) probably won’t book him for interviews as they’re having a hard time coming up with other guests that would take the ‘pro-capitalist’ slant.
Of course, some talk shows (and their sponsors) may be somewhat uncomfortable with the film’s message, which essentially spells out in capital letters the need to dismantle the capitalist system ‘and replace it with something else.’ Indeed, during the press conference, Moore almost seemed to be advocating revolution, or at least a significant turning of the tables on the 1% of Americans controlling 95% of the nation’s wealth. ‘The power is going to have to be taken from them but in a legal, non-violent way,’ he told assembled journalists.
Capitalism: A Love Story opens in New York on September 23 and in North America on October 2 through Overture Films.