The 40th anniversary edition of the Toronto International Film Festival will see the return of controversial documentarian Michael Moore via his latest project, Where to Invade Next.
Called a “searing cinematic work” and “what may be his most provocative and hilarious movie yet” by organizers, the film is slated to appear as part of the festival’s Special Presentations program.
According to a brief synopsis provided by TIFF, the documentary – which was discretely shot in several countries – finds Moore telling “the Pentagon to ‘stand down’ – he’ll do the invading for America from now on.”
Moore last premiered a documentary at TIFF in 2009 with his last feature doc project, Capitalism: A Love Story, though the director took the stage at the festival’s Doc Conference last September to present a 13-point manifesto, urging fellow documentarians to make more cinematic fare, rather than gearing their work for television.
“The audience that got used to seeing the theatrical documentaries from [Morgan] Spurlock and even Al Gore, they came out of the theater going, ‘Well that was a good documentary, but I could have seen that at home on television. Why did I pay $12 for that?’” Moore told delegates at the time.
With Where to Invade Next, TIFF’s documentary programmer Thom Powers tells realscreen that Moore is following his own advice.
“I do feel like, in retrospect, he was giving a manifesto about the power of great filmmaking that happens to be non-fiction, and this year he’s delivered with a great example of that,” says Powers, who added that he can’t yet reveal too many details about the doc. “It’s sort of like Babe Ruth pointing his bat at the stands and then hitting a home run.
“I can say it is very funny, it’s going to be a real conversation starter. It’s a culmination of lots of ideas that Moore has been working on for several years.”
Aside from industry programming, Moore has been at TIFF with such docs as The Big One (1997) and Bowling for Columbine (2002). He also previewed Sicko at the festival in 2006. Moore’s breakthrough doc Roger & Me picked up the festival’s People Choice Award in 1989 – the first non-fiction film to win the coveted prize.
“You can never time who’s going to have a film for the 40th anniversary, but the fact that he has one and a very special one is extra meaningful,” says Powers.
TIFF will reveal more documentary selections in the coming weeks. The festival last week announced that Amy director Asif Kapadia, Documentary Now! creator and comedian Bill Hader and author Naomi Klein are headed to the event’s Documentary Conference.
The festival runs from September 10 to 20, with the Documentary Conference slated for September 16.
With files from Barry Walsh.