Point Of View

Point of View: Count down to Hot Docs: Roger and Me

If you read last week, you saw that I referenced a documentary filmmaker friend of mine having just been hospitalized with a brain tumor.
This list of favorite documentaries is entirely subjective, and is a way to honor her, as well as to serve as a weekly count down to the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto.

Just because we at Ardent don’t make documentaries, does not mean we have not been inspired, influenced and moved by what documentarists do.
To All the Documentary Filmmakers Everywhere: please keep rolling that boulder up hill

There’s been a lot of ink spilled over the years about Michael Moore, so you may wonder, “why are you writing about him? He’s already famous”, et cetera.

Why? Because Michael Moore put everything on the line to make ‘Roger and Me‘, in true independent fashion. Because most documentaries are made independently in this way. And because Michael Moore is a very good filmmaker.

‘Roger and Me’ was financed partly by Moore mortgaging his own house. In its theatrical run, financially it was the most successful documentary in American history — a record since surpassed at the box office by Moore’s own later documentaries ‘Bowling for Columbine‘ and ‘Fahrenheit 9/11‘ — and it enjoyed wide critical acclaim as well.

At the time of its release, General Motors threatened to pull its advertising on TV shows that interviewed Moore.

In a culture where it’s become common to give corporations the rights and respect of an individual, and to devalue the individual/employee, having someone like Michael Moore in the landscape is increasingly necessary. A voice of dissent is very important. As someone who is now famous, his name has clout and it’s easier for him to get his films made and distributed; it’s easier for him to be heard.

Warner Brothers was the studio that picked up the movie: Moore got $3 million for the distribution license; a ton of money for a first-time filmmaker and totally unprecedented for a documentary. Part of the distribution deal for ‘Roger and Me’ required Warner’s to pay rent for two years for the families shown being evicted in the film and to give away tens of thousands of movie tickets to the unemployed workers.

I met Michael Moore when I was a kid; he’s a lovely person by the way, but more than that, I’m glad he’s in my corner.

I’m glad he’s in yours too.

VISIT Michael Moore’s site
FOLLOW him on Twitter
BUY ‘Roger and Me’ on DVD.

READ Other Recent POV Posts from Ardent Pictures:
Count down to Hot Docs: The Thin Blue Line
The Blog and the Constant Reader
Animal Trainers in the Business

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