Magazine article Screen International

Michael Moore Talks 'Where to Invade Next'

Magazine article Screen International

Michael Moore Talks 'Where to Invade Next'

Article excerpt

Michael Moore reveals how his electrifying Where To Invade Next was made under the radar.

At the end of the 1980s, Michael Moore burst onto the US independent scene with Roger & Me, the surprise box-office hit that broke the mould for documentary film-making and made its writer-director an unlikely on-screen icon.

In 2002, Moore delivered Bowling For Columbine, an even bigger box-office hit and documentary feature Oscar winner that gave its creator the chance to ruffle feathers on Hollywood's big party night with a politically charged acceptance speech.

And in 2004, Moore ignited political debate with Fahrenheit 9/11, the winner of that year's Palme d'Or at Cannes and the highest-grossing documentary of all time in the US. In between those milestones, there have been bestselling books, television projects (TV Nation, The Awful Truth) and even a feature comedy (1995's ill-fated Canadian Bacon).

After 2009's Capitalism: A Love Story, however, Moore virtually disappeared from view, emerging only with the book Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life and in a legal dispute (eventually settled out of court) with Harvey and Bob Weinstein over profits from Fahrenheit 9/11.

Then, earlier this year at Toronto, the baseball cap, jeans and trainers returned to the spotlight as Moore's Where To Invade Next made its world premiere. Shot almost entirely under the industry's radar, the new documentary takes Moore around the world in search of solutions to some of the US's most pressing problems.

Sold by William Morris Endeavor (WME), Where To Invade Next was snapped up for the US by the new and as-yet-unnamed distribution company founded by former Radius-TWC co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, and Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League.

Why the six-year gap between films?

I said at the end of Capitalism: A Love Story that I didn't have an interest in making any more issue films, and that I'd wait and see if people would start to rise up. Then Occupy Wall Street happened and other movements began and it seemed like there was a real revolt afoot.

I wrote a book and I started restoring movie palaces that had closed down to help revitalise the economy in Michigan, where I live. And then I was on the board of governors of the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] and I spent a lot of time trying to get the rules changed so there would be democracy within our branch and the entire Academy would be able to see [Oscar-nominated] documentaries and vote on them.

For Where To Invade Next, how did you manage to work under the radar?

By unplugging. Just simply not talking about it on social media. And by divorcing myself from the hype machine of publicists that send out press releases that I'm going to make this film and there's been a big deal and then list all the lawyers and agents who did the big deal.

And then capitalism helped me: the greed of the large media corporations in the US, where they have decimated newsrooms and closed most foreign bureaus, allowed me to run around the world without the American media knowing.

Why was it important to work that way?

Because I reached a point where I say something or do something and the noise machine ratchets up. I'm trying to make a really great film and I want my focus to be on that, not having to engage in a debate on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. My crew and I are very political people but we are film-makers.

You have to put the art ahead of the politics so that the politics can succeed. So many documentary makers put the politics first, don't care about the art and don't make a good movie, therefore ensuring nobody will hear anything about the politics. …

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