A/V Room









Fahrenheit 9/11 - Washington gets to see documentary as disappointment looms over rating

Story by: Jack Foley

CONTROVERSIAL film-maker, Michael Moore, has declared that if his new movie, Fahrenheit 9/11 can ‘inspire a few of that 50 per cent that did not vote in this country to get back involved, to re-engage, then the movie will have accomplished something important’.

The comments came as the movie premiered in Washington in front of an 800-strong audience of mostly Democrats on Wednesday night (June 23, 2004).

The politically-sensitive movie, which became the talk of Cannes when it debuted, alleging links between President Bush and Saudi families, including Osama Bin Laden, and which is said to contain the first footage of abuse by US soldiers, was applauded by many of the viewers, including actress, Sally Field.

The screening looks to have heightened interest ahead of the full release of the film, on June 25, well in time for the upcoming US elections.

Commenting after the screening, Democratic National Committee chairman, Terry McAuliffe, reportedly told reporters at the Washington screening that he thought the film would play an important role in the Presidential election.

He remarked: "This movie raises a lot of the issues that Americans are talking about, that George Bush has been asleep at the switch since he's been president."


The film has already created a political storm, in light of claims, by Moore, that Disney attempted to stop its release, and that the White House had tried to intervene in its production.

But while the director eventually won his fight to get the film released States-side, he was dealt further blows by the censors decision to award it an R rating, and by a claim from author, Ray Bradbury, whose book the film’s name is derived, that Moore had not asked to use his title for the documentary.

Bradbury declared, ‘that's not his novel, that's not his title’, and insists that the film should now be renamed, and although he is keen to avoid litigation, has hinted that he would be willing to pursue it if a gentlemen’s agreement cannot be reached.

Moore remains most upset about the film’s rating, feeling that it has deliberately been done to keep people away - and he even urged children to steal into cinemas, so that they could form their own opinions of it.

There was some more good news, however. The film's limited release in New York broke single-day box office records, grossing $49,000 (£27,000) alone at the Loews Village 7 cinema, easily beating the theatre's previous record, of $43,435 (£24,000), set by Men in Black in 1997.

Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films Releasing, added it had taken more than $30,000 (£16,500) at the Lincoln Plaza theatre.

The documentary has already won the prestigious Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, where head judge, Quentin Tarantino, subsequently came out to defend its selection as the number one movie.

It is now in the hands of the US public, as it is due to open in 868 screens across the US on Friday - although critics have, thus far, been largely positive.

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