His movie shows footage of Britney Spears admitting that she trusts the president. It’s a hard act to follow. But Michael Moore, America’s most contentious filmmaker recently announced he is not submitting Fahrenheit 9/11 to be considered for a best documentary Oscar in an attempt to have it shown on television before the election. Academy rules forbid the airing of a documentary on television within nine months of its theatrical release, but the Michigan native will still have a chance to win the coveted prize he is seeking: a best picture Oscar instead.
Like many Americans, I paid $10 to watch the movie in a crowded theater that smelled of stale popcorn. Like the rest of the audience, I laughed as Moore borrowed an ice cream truck and drove around Capitol Hill reading the Patriot Act to the congressmen who failed to read the bill before they made it law with a 98-1 vote. The goal of the film is to prove the inadequacies of the Bush administration and to remind Americans how the administration is deceiving us. It also happened to set box office records.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a $6 million film that has collected $117 million in the United States, making it the highest grossing documentary of all time. Dropped from the Walt Disney Co.’s Miramax Films division for being too controversial, the film won the prestigious Palme d’Or Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
The filmmaker’s notoriety is proof that his films trigger emotion, whether positive or negative. Realizing his decision to air the film on television before the election would create a publicity buzz, the muckraker is hoping to sway as many potential voters as possible.
Moore knows that swing states like Pennsylvania will determine the election. He also knows there are still millions of potential voters to reach in these particular states before Nov. 2. Airing Fahrenheit 9/11 before the election is an excellent strategy to oust Bush because it may persuade potential voters to follow Moore’s agenda by voting for someone other than Bush in the upcoming election.
Distributors Lions Gate Films, IFC Entertainment and the Fellowship Adventure Group gave no assurance that the film can even be aired at all. But the 50-year-old does not settle for maybes. Conveniently, Fahrenheit 9/11 is being released on DVD on Oct. 5 for those who want to watch it at home.
Packed with 100 minutes of extra footage, the special features are almost as long as the film itself. These extras, which include footage of Abu Ghraib Prison and homeland security personnel looking for terrorists off the coast of Florida, are purposefully chosen to educate voters about the realities behind what has happened in the last four years.
Liberal political action committee MoveOn.org engaged in a promotional effort this summer by sponsoring “more than 4,000 house parties across the country, with Moore addressing 55,000 attendees via speakerphone and the Internet,” according to U.S. News and World Report. And now that it’s fall, Moore is continuing the media blitz by submitting Fahrenheit 9/11 to be considered for an Oscar for best picture instead of best documentary.
In an article appropriately titled, “Why I Will Not Seek a Best Documentary Oscar (I’m giving it up in the hopes more voters can see ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’)” Moore’s Web site says that having the film seen by a few more Americans is more important than winning another documentary Oscar. After all, it’s these few Americans that may sway the election.
Stephanie Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.