The Popcorn Reel
Monday, September 21, 2009

Photo and copyright Omar P.L. Moore/  2009.  All Rights Reserved.
Filmmaker Michael Moore last Thursday night in San Francisco during a Q&A following a screening of his new film "Capitalism: A Love Story".
(Photo by Omar P.L. Moore/


Michael Moore On "Capitalism",
Copyright, Racism And The President
By Omar P.L. Moore/      SHARE
Monday, September 21, 2009


Before talk about his latest film "Capitalism: A Love Story" had even begun here last Thursday night Michael Moore mentioned some of America's public figures and mainstream media publications that initially supported the war in Iraq.  Keith Olbermann.  The editor of the New Yorker.  The New York Times.  Bob and Harvey Weinstein, executive producers on Mr. Moore's last three films. 

"I felt alone then," confessed Mr. Moore to a packed movie theater audience at the Clay Theater following the screening of "Capitalism", which opens here on October 2.  The Flint, Michigan filmmaker was one of the few prominent celebrities who spoke out when the U.S.-led Iraq war was in its nascent stages.  "It's different now because there's a whole new majority and a lot of people have changed their minds about the old ways.  Obviously -- they elected an African-American president.  So anytime a country that's still full of an incredible amount of racism can somehow push through that sewer and elect an African-American as president, I just like -- at that point I think that anything is possible."

The audience laughs somewhat nervously at this point.

"You know, the last eight years were pretty miserable.  Not just for the planet but for me personally."

The audience laughs again and this time there's very little tension in the expansive theater.

"For Fox News -- Bill O'Reilly -- I became public enemy number one.  And all that went along with that -- much of which I won't discuss publicly.  But suffice it to say, we made it through.  Ding dong, the witch is dead. "

Mr. Moore admitted that part of him regretted giving the famous speech at the Oscars (for his winning documentary "Bowling For Columbine") condemning the Iraq war as it entered its fifth day in March 2003.  Then-U.S. president George W. Bush was the target of scrutiny in Mr. Moore's award-winning record-breaking film "Fahrenheit 9/11" the following year.  (For the record Mr. Bush has appeared in five consecutive Moore documentaries including "Capitalism".) 

The Oscar-winning director said that in 2004 a ringtone company offered him a six-figure payday if he "had licensed me at the Oscars when a cell phone rings to say, 'shame on you Mr. Bush!'"

He turned the money down.

It's worth noting at this point that anyone who knows Mr. Moore reasonably well knows he doesn't believe in copyright laws.  Moreover, he actively encourages bootlegged copies of his films to be freely distributed and copied as many times as one chooses -- a rare allowance by a filmmaker.  The Motion Picture Association Of America won't be pleased with Mr. Moore's advocating bootlegging of his films and on this Thursday night (September 17) -- which happens to the 20th anniversary of the world premiere of "Roger & Me" -- Mr. Moore isn't pleased with the MPAA. 

"I've just been given an R-rating by the MPAA.  'Fuck' is said three times although according to the rules none of the fucks are sexual in nature.  None of them are used in violence.  And none of them are used in the second-person command," said Mr. Moore, whose "Fahrenheit 9/11" is the highest-grossing documentary ever.  "So I've been fighting it out, you know, and using the word 'fuck' more than I ever have, with the MPAA."  

Photo and copyright Omar P.L. Moore/  2009.  All Rights Reserved.
Michael Moore last Tuesday in Beverly Hills at the L.A. red carpet premiere of  his latest film.
 (Photo: Omar P.L. Moore/

"Capitalism: A Love Story", which opens on Wednesday exclusively in New York City and Los Angeles, is one of the most emotionally powerful films of 2009.  It chronicles the Wall Street crash of September 2008 and the role banks, Wall Street insiders and U.S. politicians played in it.  Describing the experience on "Capitalism" Mr. Moore stated that "I -- in this film more than ever before -- have had people who don't necessarily share my politics ask me for help, ask me to tell their story.  And it was one of the best parts of making this film.  It was cathartic on some level.  It was redemptive on another level."  Mr. Moore added that Overture Films, which distributes "Capitalism" in North America in association with Paramount Vantage, had done testing for the film which showed that "Capitalism: A Love Story" has been recommended by those who say they are Republicans more often than they had recommended any previous Moore film. 

"The shit has already started to come at me", Mr. Moore said of "Capitalism: A Love Story", which will be screened for free in America's economically hardest-hit cities and towns on October 1.  He mentioned that at least one website has already been set up to discredit "Capitalism" and spoke of some film critics and other journalists who will likely be given talking points that aim at subverting Mr. Moore's film.

Nevertheless, "Capitalism: A Love Story" calls out U.S. politicians in the Democratic Party for their wrongdoings in last year's financial market and mortgage collapse more than it does Republicans' bad deeds.

"I guess I'm counting on you and people of your generation to hold this president's feet -- and especially the Democrats in Congress -- their feet to the fire here or we're not gonna get anything we need in the next four years," Mr. Moore said of the audience regarding Mr. Obama, of whom the filmmaker said wouldn't have made it to the White House without the youth vote.  "Young people ignited his whole campaign, made the Iowa victory happen.  And the other [candidates] never knew what hit them."

While Michael Moore cautioned the audience to stay focused and resolute on bringing about change to the United States, he spoke of the historic day -- November 4, 2008 -- when the realization of a significant moment had hit him.  Mr. Moore was with his wife Kathleen Glynn, a producer on all of his films.  "I was at the polling place . . . I closed the curtain.  I looked down -- I saw [Barack Obama] on the ballot and I literally started to cry.  I couldn't believe I was seeing this man's name on the ballot." Mr. Moore said that his tears smudged his black marker vote on the ballot.

"'Pull yourself together, man!'", he recalled Ms. Glynn saying to him as he emerged from the voting booth in Michigan.  He had described himself as being "overjoyed" at then-Senator Obama's presidential election triumph that evening.

Of now-President Obama Mr. Moore said: "I know his heart is in the right place.  I know he comes from the right place.  And I know he's going to do the right thing.  And that's the way I'm gonna go on this one right now."

A few moments later he added: "But in four more months if he's still sending troops to Afghanistan, we all have to agree that's no longer Bush's war -- that's Obama's war."  The audience applauded.

Michael Moore outside the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street during the filming
of "Capitalism: A Love Story".

"We expect him to do the right thing.  We expect him to be beholden to us and not to Wall Street, not to Goldman Sachs," commented Mr. Moore about President Obama. 

During "Capitalism: A Love Story" Mr. Moore narrates that the current commander-in-chief received about one million dollars in campaign contributions from Goldman, the investment banking company -- the largest single private donor to Mr. Obama's 2008 presidential candidacy.  (Mr. Moore said that in a few weeks' time he hopes to get a private meeting at the White House with President Obama for about ten to fifteen minutes to lend support to him regarding healthcare reform.  Mr. Moore directed the film "SiCKO", which chronicled the plight of the American healthcare industry.  The film was released in 2007.)

"Again, I'm giving the guy a break.  He inherited a catastrophe.  And frankly, I never liked the idea of why the black guy has to come in and clean up a bunch of white people's mess." 

More applause.

Mr. Moore hailed former U.S. president Jimmy Carter as "a brave man" for speaking earlier in the week about racism directed at President Obama by many white protesters being a major factor in some of the most vociferous criticism of President Obama's healthcare plan.

"He nailed it.  It's exactly what all this is about."

"The guy's been there (in office) for like, seven months and -- 'oh, the children can't watch him!'  I think it's that some white people have a problem with a black guy being in charge -- and that's what it is.  It should be named, it should be called for what it is."  He later said that President Obama shouldn't be the position of addressing the issues of racism in some of the boisterous protesting that has occurred in parts of the United States over the last two months. 

"I'd rather white people call it out for what it is so that is not an added burden on you as an African-American to have to name this thing, this disease that we still deal with in this country," Mr. Moore said to a black man from Washington, D.C. who had asked him a question.

The Cannes Palm D'Or winner also spoke about the mortgage crisis that has been so pervasive across the nation.  "You've got right now one out of every eight mortgages -- eight homes in this country -- one out of every eight is either in delinquency or foreclosure tonight.  That's an amazing number.  So that means it's cut across everybody," said Mr. Moore of the vast number of Americans affected -- Democrats, Republicans and other politically-affiliated persons. 

"If anything," Mr. Moore continued, "the assault from the banks and from Wall Street has started to bring people together.  My hope is, my hope in making this film is that their anger is directed in a good and positive way to take control of this country.  As you know, historically when the have-nots are manipulated with fear and blaming the other [there] could be a very easy turn to fascism.  Just as easily it can go hopefully the other way.  So I'm pulling for these good Republican people to come over here on this side of the river."

"Capitalism: A Love Story" opens in New York City and Los Angeles on Wednesday.  The film opens everywhere else on October 2.

Photo and copyright Omar P.L. Moore/  2009.
Michael Moore  last week during the L.A. premiere of "Capitalism: A Love Story". 
One piece of advice that the filmmaker dispensed to a San Francisco audience
about making films: "The political message will come through a lot stronger
if you first make a really good movie."  (Photo: Omar P.L. Moore)

Related: Photo gallery of "Capitalism: A Love Story" red carpet premiere in Beverly Hills (9/15/09)

Related: "Capitalism: A Love Story" Trailer

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