The AP reviews a new documentary at the Austin, Texas film festival, South by Southwest. "Manufacturing Dissent" is one of the films premiering at the well-regarded festival, and the documentary is about controversial director, Michael Moore, who made 2002’s gun-control statement movie, "Bowling For Columbine," and 2004's problematic anti-war critical and financial hit, "Farenheit 9/11," which focused on the war in Iraq. His work is best known for creative editing and ambushing interview targets in the name of entertainment and shock. The new documentary about Moore is generating quite a lot of talk at South By Southest, and includes a scene that demonstrates that the whole premise of the movie that made his name,“Roger & Me,” is not what it seemed:
The film from directors Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk, playing Saturday night at the Austin, Texas, festival, follows Moore during the release of "Fahrenheit 9/11" and questions many of his tactics.
Among its revelations: that the confrontational documentarian did interview former General Motors Chairman Roger Smith, the elusive subject of his 1989 debut "Roger & Me," and simply chose to leave it out of the finished cut.
Moore, a native of the Flint, Mich., area who chronicled the city's decline in "Roger & Me," won an Academy Award for 2002's "Bowling for Columbine." Moore, who now lives near Traverse City, Mich., has not responded to e-mail and phone requests for comment.
"The people who can attest to this are extremely credible and do attest to this in the film," said John Pierson, the independent film veteran who helped sell "Roger & Me" to Warner Bros. and now teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. "I've always loved `Roger & Me.' I loved working on it. I really believed in it, and that's really bad. The fundamental core of the film is how his mission to get Roger Smith fails and, p.s., Michael spent 18 years since then swearing he never interviewed Roger Smith.
The documentary challenges Moore’s film and Moore himself, but a South by Southwest producer says it isn’t political:
South by Southwest producer Matt Dentler said there was a similar buzz at the festival in 2002 when Alexandra Pelosi showed her documentary "Journeys With George," in which she followed President Bush during his first run for the White House.
"I think on the surface people have a certain conception about what (`Manufacturing Dissent') is that for the most part is probably false. The film is for the most part critical of Michael Moore but it's not a political film, there's no partisanship," he said. "It's an issue of questioning the media, deciphering who's the architect of what we consider fact and fiction and reality."
Considering the dearth of widely-accepted scholarly research into the validty of the claims in some of Moore's films, this promises to be a very interesting plunge into the world of Moore’s assertions. An non-partisan, in-depth fact-checking of Moore's movies might surprise a few of his fans with the results. We’ll have to track the reviews.