LISTEN: Michael Moore at Cannes (mp3)
My day 2 of the Cannes Film Festival was all about notorious Michael Moore and the somewhat lighter project documentary on health care in the United States, Sicko. It was at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2004 that publicized Moore’s much-heralded signature documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, designed to influence the public’s opinion of presiding President Bush for the 2004 Presidential Election. Moore is the sexiest thing in Cannes, and has been ever since he became America’s No.1 Bush hater; every pound of him. Not to mention his red-carpet appearances sparking well-received applause from side-walk onlookers, Moore’s press conferences had the reporters elated with drool as well.
Yesterday, I got to sit in on one of the press conferences with Michael up front on stage being interviewed by respected Variety editor Peter Bart—who were both introduced by Santa Barbara Film Festival manager Roger Durling as “the two most dangerous men in Hollywood.” It must be so, because both were breaking open the professional shells of each reporter; inducing them to get out of their seats and cheer Moore on like in a political rally. Even though the conference was designated for Sicko, the conference became a political agenda speech; not just speaking on his behalf as the voice of the mainstream liberal party, but revving up criticism against the Bush Administration and public as he does at American colleges on tour. The interview was a full recap of what Sicko tried to convey about America’s putrid health care and criminal private health insurance firms, and how it all compares to Canada, France, and Sweden. Funny enough, Moore admitted at the conference that he researched Norway as well, but thought it was way too weird how good the health care is over there. “Norway is so crazy good, and so ridiculous, more ridiculous than France, they send you for a week to the Canary Islands at a spa. We got so [freaked] out by that, we just couldn’t put it in.” I don’t if this statement is valid, but the point is clear about how America’s domestic service compares to the rest of the world.
(Michael Moore, director of Sicko)
The most notable point of the conference was on Moore’s future in his role right now as mainstream’s most popular documentary director—documentaries being low on the totem pole for “coolness,” but Moore has revitalized public interest. It was apparent Moore was tired of taking all the punches when his supporters and fans stand aside speechless. “I’m like the one voice marching up against all of the lies perpetrated upon the American public—in this case, for health care. At some point, I hope I can catch a break here, because how much longer do I have to be doing this? I take the shit for it. I’m a human being too because I have to live through all this. I don’t enjoy it,” Moore explained. It was quite an endearing scene watching Moore show us his scars; for once Moore seemed more human than a political-filmmaking activist. After explaining the backlash he’s received from his work, the sea of reporters gave him a sympathetic applause. It was clear Moore was in a room of friends. Moore was asked later by one of the reporters how much longer he expects to distribute his work political documentaries, and Moore responded: “I kid around to the crew that I’m going to make just two more movies, and then maybe I’ll do something with the ice-capades or something, I don’t know, [crowd laughter]. I can’t not do what I’m doing, just like everyone else in this room,” Moore said. Everyone in the crowd silently screamed: “THANK GOD!” The buzz around the festival with the critics was that many hard-nosed reporters literally cried during the screening here--talk about fan support.