Monday, May 24, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

It wasn't 15 minutes it was 25 minutes. 25 minutes of standing ovation. I've never been to a screening like it. I've been to some pretty spectacular screenings in my time. I remember the opening night of Pulp Fiction - THAT was a great screening. This was better.

When Michael Moore walked in there was 3 minutes of applause. This should have been a clue but instead I expected another stuffy formal Cannes screening. Wrong. This was an audience in unison - a collective group of people who think the same way.

Bush is a lying, inbred cunt who needs to be removed - by any means necessary. It could have been 20 times, maybe more, that the entire audience broke into applause during the film and when it ended - 25 minutes. We all stood up surrounded Michael Moore and his gang simply cheered. If there were any dissenters - they were smart enough to shut the fuck up.

The Premiere

4pm start. A lot earlier than the usual 7pm. Walking up the carpet half the audience were in black ties and the rest in jeans and T Shirts - typical Cannes daywear. I walked up the red carpet for Troy and Bad Education - but this was the one I wanted to see. Business aside - Line Producers are kept very busy in Cannes - this experience was the one thing I wanted to take away with me from the whole Cannes circus and I was lucky enough to be there.

The Film

Walking away from the screening I felt euphoric - Like my voice had been made clear for the world to hear - but it was not a great documentary and shouldn't be looked upon as one. It's not as polished, disciplined or intelligent as Bowling For Columbine. But its important to look at it purely for what it is - a piece of political propaganda - made for the American public at large - informing them in a way they can fully understand exactly what Bush is and that only they have the power to vote him out.

We begin with the 2000 elections and in Michael Moores great deadpan and sardonic voice we see how the results came into being and the people who formed that "opinion" that Bush had won. We see how people did try and challenge the election results - but were ignored and beaten back via legal policy. We then get a great montage of Bush hard at work during his first months in office. We see him Golfing, Hunting, shaking hands with various Saudi "royals" (oil rich ruling despot tribesmen) and assorted cronies from his fathers regime. In fact - 42% of his first term was spent on holiday.

And then 9/11 happened.

We don't see planes hitting buildings but we see the looks on peoples faces. We then see the build up to war

The film is simplistic at best - but it has to be. It has to communicate directly with the American public who sometimes need things spelt out to them that clearly. No free thought allowed here!

This film can be compared to Leni Riefensyahl's Triumph of the Will. This is not a documentary - but instead a piece of political propaganda. Like all good pieces of propaganda it shows powerful imagery and directly links it into it view point. The controversy and legacy will simply be decided by each and every one of you on how you think about Bush.

We see American soldiers screaming in pain seconds after shrapnel has covered their bodies. This is powerful stuff.

We see the despondent soldiers who realise what a futile and unnecessary war this is and this imagery is constantly linked to Bush's family business interests in this war.

There were camera crews inside Iraq. We see the horrible images of the victims of war. We hear the screams. We see children arriving in hospitals with their bodies ripped apart.

There are camera crews shadowing the American soldiers.

We see the business conventions sponsored by Bush's seniors companies where they meet to work out how to maximise profit on the war and now - the rebuilding of Iraq.

The most impassioned speaker was an elderly woman who just worked her way through the facts - furious beyond words - which this has all been allowed to happen.

Michael Moore didn't appear on screen as much as in other works. There were a few moments of "classic Moore", the best being where he went to Washington and asked various congressmen to send their kids to Iraq. Most just laughed him off. But the agenda here is so different than normal. Not only is the message important but there is also little time get this out to the American voters.

One thing to ask yourself is why America went into Iraq. The weapons of mass distruction line is bullshit. So is linking it with terrorists. But Iraq was being ruled by a murderous thug who raped, tortured and killed 100'000's of his own people - so getting was getting rid of him a bad thing?

A more complicated question is now that Saddam is gone - how are going to help Iraq - a country made up warring tribes all lusting after the wests oil money.

This is probably not the best film of the festival - but it is the most important. If it did win the Palm Dior - the voice of the filmmakers who voted will be heard.

The Party

It was a low key bash. Not really a party - it felt more like a family gathering. Most of the people who actually made the film were there, as was Harvey and his Miramax delegation. In all - about 100 people were there. The food was good and the beach setting a good one. (a special request for the party pimps of Cannes next year - please stock your bars with JD - I can't find it anywhere outside of overpriced bars)

Talking to the editors I learned that the film was being edited as late as last week. I rightly guessed that it was footage of American soldiers illegally putting bags over the heads of Iraqi prisoners. Basically the print was wet. I was also told that the film may still yet be polished some more.

Later on in the evening I was sitting at Michael's table when a special gift arrived. Michael opened it and inside was a still frame of Julie Christie from the film Fahrenheit 451 - signed by Truffaut himself. A great gift.

I only hope this film gets it July 4th release and seen by America. The world is counting on the American public to vote correctly this time. When I woke up this morning I was not a filmmaker. I was simply a man that cares about my future. Melodramatic maybe but simply the way I feel.

This is a film that has been made to oust a president. Lets hope it works.

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Read more on the follow-up to this here. Thanks to the folks at Ain't It Cool News for keeping us abreast of what's coming up in the world of movies.

Stay tuned.

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