Hey folks, Harry here... Here's the first two reports on Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 9/11 for AICN from Cannes! About 35 minutes after it screened, I got a screaming telephone call from an incredibly enthusiastic British sounding gentleman telling me that he'd just attended the most astonishing filmic event he'd ever seen. The film apparently knocked the roof off he place... He claimed that there was a 25 Minute Standing Ovation... though I've seen reports that claimed it was only 10 minutes, some say 15 and even 20 minutes... but that instant call said, 25 minutes... that spy was on his way to the after party to try and scoop more scoop for us. BUT - he felt it was the most important film ever made and that everyone everywhere should see it. HAVING SAID THAT - Most level headed critics seem to be saying this is Michael Moore's worst film and that had he stuck more to the "rules" of documentary - that he could have had a truly powerful and great film... but that the film bares no resemblence to a Documentary - and is more of a Left Wing Political Pamphlet for those that need the obvious spelled out to them. That being said, Michael Moore has never claimed this to be a documentary - but as a rallying cry to overthrow a tyrannous bastard (in his eyes) and get people out there bitching, talking and motivated politically.
Sorry not to have sent cannes reports as i used to do for previous years. but This year, i got a looot of work to do here. Anyway just seen Michael Moore's latest. Here's my point of view.
As I didn't slept for three days, I'm afraid, it's even more mumble-jumble than usual...
Everyone wanted to see this film. And once one saw Farenheit 9/11, filmcritic is found well embarassed. First because this film resists any critical judgement.to say "I adored " or "I hated" Michael Moore’s film isn’t of any utility. Why? Because Farenheit 9/11 is much more one opinion column than a film in oneself. Just can one argue on the shape of film, where Moore deciphers the actions of Bush adminstration, from faked election of George W to the nÃ©o-Vietnam that has become the war in Iraq. Initially it takes again the speech of Bowling for columbine showing the necessity for any government with the capacity of exploiting any type of fear on its citizens for better achieving goals fixed in shadow. Until there, this is known ground, between systematic demonstration by absurdity or contradictory of untrue behaviors. The continuation leaves Farenheit 9/11 the Moore tactic, when contrary to its preceding films, he’s not filming himself investigating but leaves the word to archives images or particularly recent images he comments from time to time, to decipher them. Farenheit being summarized then with simple but effective film of assembly, without real point of view of setting in scene. Thing gets thicker in the last part, where Moore almost disappear. On screen, word is to soldiers in Baghdad or to their relatives. For long sequences summarizing the distress or anger, in particular that, very poignant where a mother whose son died in Kerbala reads his last letter. Moments strong enough to avoid any overtext or explanation. but leading to only one point : Bush mustn't be reelected in november.
Strangest remaining the context where the film has been shown, in this very particular festival, principality of the privilege and sometimes of the factitious one. Making wonder whether if Cannes is offering a platform to Moore, or the festival using its step to improve some competition without any huge buzz or favorite so far. What causes a serious problem, when Farenheit 9/11, film with VERY strong purpose but done without artistic considerations can’t support any idea of competition. For this reason it would have undoubtedly be better for this screening to be opened to maximum of witnesses, rather than to a pseudo-elite critical dressed in tuxedos, which will not fail to orate on a film which can’t be commented for now, would be this only by its unfinished aspect, the end of this story being held live any day, between the Irak situation and the result of the next American presidential elections.
and now for Celia...
I don't know if you had any reports from Cannes this year, but I just felt that I had to send you one about Michael Moore being at the Festival.
Michael Moore latest documentary, called Fahrenheit 9/11 has been selected in the Official Competition. He arrived in Cannes Saturday and already everyone talked about him : there has been protestations among the workers at some of the most famous palaces and Michael Moore came to talk to the protesters in front of his own hotel.
Yesterday, he was giving a one-on-one interview. Peter Bart, Variety editor was his host. The interview was to take place on the terrace of a private beach along the Croisette.
I arrived half an hour before and the queue was already very long. They began to let people get in. When there were five persons in front of me, they said it was full, but happily, they gave twenty more people the authorization to get in. We hadn't got a seat but we were really close to Michael Moore. The audience was mostly American or British people, there maybe only four or five French like me and a few others from various nationalities.
Michael Moore arrived, looking not really at ease.
The first questions were about this whole distribution and production business : Moore explained that, first, Icon was producing but that Mel Gibson got pressures from some persons from the White House.
So, Miramax ended up producing the doc. But, after a screening for Miramax business heads, the relationships went colder, till a few days ago when the situation got really confused. Moore said his doc was to be distributed all over the nations present in Cannes except for three countries : Taiwan, Hong-Kong and... the USA !
Moore went on talking about his motivations, explaining himself as a true patriot, horrified by what happens in America which he finds totally opposed to the principles of this nation, saying that it was not in the US principles to go and invade countries. He was cheerfully applaused, many times during the interview.
He the explained himself about his speech at the Oscars, doing a great impression of himself and then a great impression of all these A-Lists actors. He told how, as he walking down the aisle, everyone was cheering "Go Michael ! Go ! Get 'em"... adding "Cause I won't do it myself !"
He proved himself, during this interview, as a deeply concerned yet funny man. But he couldn't help saying he was king of worried about the screening.
So what was all this ado about ? I finally discovered it today. Everyone knew it would be very difficult to get the tickets. So I woke up at 5 am ! And believe me, it was hard to do, cause I went to bed at 2 am, having attended the Kill Bill 2 Gala screening (which was great !).
The theatre was more than full. Half of the people were American, but a lot of us were French. He was warmly applaused when he came in. Then the doc began.
The doc begins with the election day, stressing the point that Gore had won, until Fox News told the contrary.
The documentary goes from the investiture and the riots that happened that day, to the first months of "work" for Bush. Pretty soon we get to September 11. Moore made the choice not to show the images of the tower, but left a black screen, with only the noises. When there finally are images : it's the faces of people in the streets.
Moore shows what was Bush doing when he get the news (sitting in a school, reading a child book) and how he stayed there, doing nothing, for several minutes. The critic to the man is obvious and violently funny. The audience in the theatre was laughing and cheering.
Moore illustrates then his point : the relationships between Saudians families and the Bush family, all linked through weapons and oil firms. Moore uses a fragmented chronology and flash-backs to prove the manipulations and the contradictions in speeches.
Very soon, Moore explains that the real goal was Iraq though Afghanistan was attacked first.
Then begins the second part of the doc : about war.
Moore demonstrates, with the help of a psychiatrist and of archives documents, how the opinion and American people were manipulated, putting an emphasis about the Patriot Act.
Moore went to Baghdad, where he shot soldiers, speaking freely, where he just the people and how they are treated by American troops. He creates a "dÃ©calage" between what is said by some soldiers and by what he shows of the war : civilians being killed or arrested.
His purpose is clear : he doesn't put the blame on the troops, but on their ignorance, their violence and on the manipulators.
We also follows with him the story of Lila, who is an ordinary family mother from Flint, Michigan. We follow her in time : her pride that her kid is a soldier, like many in her family before, then the first doubts of Lila, to, eventually, her son's death and her trip to Washington, while, in the meantime, Moore shows himself trying to recruit, unsuccesfully the senators' kids to go to war in Iraq.
The doc ends with a George Orwell quotation about war and politics. Moore closes his doc with a final commentary, which you can't really calls optimistic.
He got the biggest standing ovation I ever saw in Cannes. Most people were red-eyed because it was so moving. But everyone stood and applauded, and cheered for at least 15 minutes.
When he went down the steps, the music being played was John Lennon's Imagine. A beautiful choice for a beautiful doc.