Michael Moore to keynote TIFF’s Doc Conference

The Bowling for Columbine director (pictured) is to keynote the Toronto International Film Festival's annual Doc Conference this September, as his landmark debut Roger & Me celebrates its 25th anniversary.
July 15, 2014

Doc provocateur Michael Moore (pictured) is to keynote the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual Doc Conference this September, as his landmark debut Roger & Me celebrates its 25th anniversary.

In a keynote conversation with TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers, Moore will reflect on the film that set his non-fiction career in motion, and will share “his experiences in muckraking and his hopes for the future of documentary,” according to the festival.

TIFF will also host a special screening of the film, which won the festival’s People’s Choice Award in 1989, ahead of its 25th anniversary Blu-ray and DVD re-release via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on October 7.

In a statement, Moore said the anniversary was “a bittersweet milestone,” explaining that “on the one hand, the film has affected the millions who’ve seen it and it has strongly influenced what is a now-thriving documentary movement.”

He added, however, that “the fact that Roger & Me is as relevant today as it was 25 years ago is a travesty. Actually, it’s more than that. At least in 1989, there were still 50,000 General Motors jobs left in Flint. Today, there are but 4,000 GM jobs that remain in Flint.”

TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling said: “In 1989, Roger & Me took Toronto by storm: the irreverent, persistent and radical doc seized the attention of media, industry and audiences alike.

“The premiere at once brought attention to the situation in Flint, Michigan, and signaled the emergence of an original and irrepressible voice in documentary filmmaking. Twenty-five years later, welcoming Roger & Me back to Toronto will be a highlight of the 2014 festival.”

Later in his career, Moore most notably won an Academy Award for his 2002 polemic Bowling for Columbine, and still holds the record for the highest grossing documentary to date, having accrued US$199.2 million at the U.S. box office with his 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11.

In addition to the anniversary of Roger & Me, September also marks a different anniversary for Moore: five years since the Venice festival debut of his last feature doc, 2009’s Capitalism: A Love Story.

While it has been half a decade since the director stepped back from the hands-on world of filmmaking, he has remained a presence on the documentary landscape.

Until last year, Moore served as governor for AMPAS’s documentary branch, having been elected to the board in 2010. During that tenure, he pushed aggressively for an overhaul of the doc branch’s qualifying rules.

In 2013, he also lent his name to Yoav Shamir’s documentary 10%: What Makes a Hero?, serving as an executive producer. Beyond those ventures, he also published an autobiography.

The TIFF Doc Conference takes place September 9-10 during TIFF, which runs September 4-14. Details of further Doc Conference keynotes, panel sessions and presentations will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

About The Author
Andrew Jeffrey joined Realscreen in 2021 as its news editor. Here, he helps to oversee assignment, reporting and editing for Realscreen's daily newsletter. Prior to his work covering documentary and non-fiction film and TV, he worked as a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton, and as a reporter for The Star Calgary, where he covered daily news on beats such as local and provincial politics, health care and harm reduction, sports and education. His work has appeared in other Canadian news outlets such as TVO, the Edmonton Journal and Avenue Magazine.