INT: Michael Moore
It seems as though director Michael Moore enjoys stirring up controversy when enlightening the world with his research and conclusions. His past two films have placed him at the top of some peoples most hated lists. In his most recent film SICKO (you can read my review of the film HERE), Moore challenges the American health care system by comparing it to other countries.
There is no doubt that SICKO will generate as much debate and hatred as any of his other films. Lets face it though, the man is a genius and knows how to use his most powerful weapon of film making to his advantage. Moore sat down with us here in Cannes to redeem himself, defend his film and reconfirm his beliefs based on factual findings through extensive research. Check out what the controversial documentary filmmaker had to say below...
Had you made any specific arrangements with Cuba before your arrival there and were they expecting you?
First of all, I want to say that I read in the NY Post yesterday that the Bush administration is investigating the 9/11 rescue workers [from my film] who we took to Guantanamo Bay. If what the Post is saying is true, I am stunned that they would go after these rescue workers. I think that it is really shameful and its not fair what the Bush administration is doing. Go after me, go after the film but dont g after but leave these people alone who the government has refused to help and go after them because they have gone to get help. I find that shameful.
In terms of going into Cuba, when we cut out the part about getting in there, that was the satirical portion of the movie. There was no homeland security issue involved here. We first approached the Bush administration last October about wanting to go down there and they kept stalling. By March, we decided we were going to go down as journalists. They didnt know that we were coming on the boat.
When you were getting the 9/11 rescue workers medical treatment, did it ever cross your mind that you were making a great marketing piece for what is essentially dictatorship?
While we were there and turned away from Guantanamo Bay, we would have gone to wherever they had sent the Al-Quaida prisoners so that these rescue workers could get the same medical attention as they were getting. No more, no less. We would have gone to whichever country the prisoners were being kept but it was just Cuba because thats where the Bush administration decided to build the camp. So, thats where we ended up. As for the health care, they received the same treatment as all the other patients in the room. Its not just me saying this. All the health organizations around the world have documented the fact that the health system in Cuba is probably the best system in the third world as far as health care goes.
One of the lady rescue workers [I took to Cuba with me for medical attention] stayed around a little longer and said she wanted to find out if the Cubans were doing this only because the cameras were around or whether they would do this for anyone. She went back downstairs, reentered the hospital, and went to another window to check. She said that they did the exact same thing with her as they did when she first came in. They asked her name, date of birth and the nature of her health problem. Whether the cameras were on or not, everyone foreigner or not was getting the same medical attention. It was incredible to see the kind of healthcare everyone was getting. If you interview these rescues workers, they will tell you how grateful they are to have received the medical attention.
In France, people get paycheck to the government and in America; they keep wanting to pay less and less taxes.
I did say in the film that the French are drowning in taxes. Yes, Americans dont want to pay taxes because they never see the results. We pay all these taxes and they cant even get potholes fixed. Nothing works! In France, in Britain and in other places, they actually see tangible results for the money they pay in taxes. We dont see that. Thats where the difference is. If Americans actually saw tangible results in the amount of taxes we pay then we would probably pay even more if we were covered.
In regards to personal changes, we as Americans need to restructure our thinking and believe that it is important to share and restate the law so that everyone is covered. Are we wiling to do that? No, people are always complaining that they dont want to stand in line and that they want a doctor right away. I dont think that that kind of mentality has done us well. I think we need to learn to share and start behaving as they call us a Christian country. Id like to see that.
People think that you often oversimplify things and not tell the whole truth, which attracts criticism. Why do you do that?
Im making a movie. Im not writing a book. I have 98 120 minute time frame. What you call over simplification, I call a rocking good way to tell a story.
What has the Cannes Film Festival done to you in terms of marketing your movies?
It is the most prestigious festival in the world so its an honor to be asked to come here and theres lot of good movies that are shown. There is nothing to sell because the movies already been sold. Its so hard making these film that we work hard at till the last minute that it was just important to come to the south of France to come here and be treated nicely.
Do you have any immediate solutions for the US to implement immediately?
One thing we need to do is get the money out of politics and reform so that we cant buy our congress. If we took the money out, wed have a better chance of getting the bills passed and have this health care and find the solutions that we need. I hope that people who watch this film will come become participants. Im a filmmaker and I never talk about the process of making movie or what I think about movies. Im only equipped to answer political questions so far. Im not writing a book, Im making a movie and Im very careful about the facts of my film.
The facts in my film are accurate and correct. The fact is a fact. If I say there are nearly 50 million people without health insurance, thats a fact. If I say other health insurance is better than ours, thats a conclusion Ive reached from the fact that Ive seen it. I feel that my crew and I do such a good job and go through such an extenuating process on this film that goes way above and beyond than any other publication. I rarely get into a lawsuit. I only got into one suit from BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and there was one suit for FAHRENHEIT 9/11. If I said things that were wrong, people would be coming at me in all direction but they dont because the things that are said are true are actually true. The conclusions and opinions I reach are mine. So the only way the critics can come at me is to have a dispute on my opinions or it has to with themselves and me.
How do doctors feel about all socialized health care?
Doctors did not want free healthcare for the elderly and then came Medicaid. Doctors have been on the wrong side of this issue for a long time. They supported the HMOs at first. They thought they would make more money through insurance companies and managed care and they didnt realize that insurance companies would be a lot smarter. Doctors are demoralized and I think they will be the biggest supporters of this film.
The Canadian health care system isnt necessarily better all the time because you dont always get immediate attention.
The things that they do right in the Canadian health care system show that in an emergency situation, they are going to take care of you and very quickly and very well. If you need surgery and its not life threatening but could make your life better, that kind of surgery will take a lot longer because anytime you decide to share a pie with a table and if there is someone who is a bit hungrier than others at the table, wouldnt the general feeling be to let them eat first? So for someone who is having an aneurysm, you have to be in Canada for something like that.
How many people did you actually take down with you to Cuba for medical attention?
We had close to a dozen people roughly.
Did Jim, the person who runs a hate Michael Moore website find out that you were his guardian angel who sent him the anonymous check?
I left him a message recently to let him know that I was the person who sent him the money because I wanted him to know before the premiere of my film. I received a very gracious note from him thanking me and wishing the film well. I hope it turns out ok.
Have you ever thought about relocating to Canada?
Yes, I have during the draft years. Otherwise, I would not live anywhere else other than the U.S. Id like to bring more of Canada or France to the US than to run away.
What issue will you focus on in your next film?
I got asked that a few years ago here in Cannes and the insurance companies right away issued letters to their employees forbidding them to talk with me and instructing them on how to avoid the topic by using other topics of discussion like weight loss [laughs]. So, I decided this time not to talk about my next film because its hard as is for me. I can say, my subject matter for the next film has already been researched.
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