Michael Moore directs SiCKO a documentary about the problems of the Privatized Health Care System in the United States compared to the Universal Health Care System in other countries, such as France and Cuba, where people can get health care that's either virtually free or completely free. Michael Moore has previously directred the top grossing documentary film of all time, Fahrenheit 9/11 as well as Bowling for Columbine, The Big One, Canadian Bacon and Roger & Me. His upcoming films include Uprising and Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2. I had the privilege to interview him.
The Weinstein Company will release SiCKO on June 22nd, 2007 at the AMC/Loews Lincoln Square and then wide on June 29th, 2007.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What positive aspects of health care surprised you?
MM: One thing that surprised me in a positive way is how many U.S. doctors support socialized medicine. That did not used to be the case; they were the biggest opponent of it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did the Bush administration try to create obstacles for you?
MM: The Bush administration sent me a certified letter 10 days before the Cannes Film Festival informing me that I was under investigation for criminal and civil penalties because I took a group of 9/11 rescue workers, who were not receiving health care, down to Cuba and itís illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba unless youíre a journalist. A documentary, [though], is a work of journalism. No laws were broken. Itís just an attempt by the Bush Administration to use our federal agencies, as they have been known to do in the past, to politically harass opponents, in this case, me. Our lawyers felt that, in order to protect the film, we should make a duplicate master and have it stored in Canada. To even say these words in this country [and] that I have to worry about confiscation of my film or going after me as a documentary filmmaker, is an absurd thing to even have to deal with. I guess weíre going to have to deal with a lot of absurd things in the last seven years.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you interact with the guy who ran the anti-Michael Moore website?
MM: I called the man who runs the anti-Michael Moore website just before the first screening of this film at the Cannes Film Festival. I didnít want him blind-sided. The decent thing to do was to let him know that it was me who sent him the check. I left a voicemail on his phone telling him that. Within fifteen minutes, that voicemail was placed on his website for everyone to hear. He immediately posted a very nice note thanking me for helping him and wishing the film well.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you feel about the bootleg version of SiCKO that appeared on the internet?
MM: Itís not taken at a movie theater with a little home video camera, the way itís usually done. This is an inside job. Who has a vested interest in ruining the opening weekendís box office of Sicko? If I were the police or the FBI investigating this felony, thatís where I would look. Having said that, Iím happy that people are able to see my movie. Iím not a big believer in our copyright laws. I think theyíre way too restrictive. Iíve never supported the idea of going after Napster. I think the rock bands who fought this were wrong. I think filmmakers are wrong about this. Sharing is a good thing. I remember the first time I received a cassette tape of a band called The Clash. I became an instant fan and then bought their albums and went to their concerts and gave them my money, but I first got it for free. As a filmmaker, I made this film to be seen on a 40-foot screen. I donít even like DVDs. In my lifetime, I might have rented a dozen DVDs.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you view yourself as a documentary filmmaker?
MM: I consider myself [to be] a satirist. Satire has always been considered a form of journalism. The Op Ed pages of our newspaper years ago always contained great satire that Mark Twain [and] Will Rogers would write. In the old days, people didnít think that humor was necessarily divorced from politics, opinion and journalism. [So], my films are like the Op Ed pages. Iím also trying to entertain people. [However], Iím not running a political here. Iím not a preacher; Iím a filmmaker. So, first and foremost, I am trying to make a film that people are going to love to go to on a Friday night, where they walk out of the theater with an exhilarated sense of ďWow!Ē. Iím satisfied if they have a good laugh or a good cry and get angry and leave the theater feeling like theyíve seen something that theyíve never seen before. When you go to my movies, you know that to be a fact. Youíre not going to get [this] on the evening news.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would you consider yourself to be mainstream?
MM: Iím actually in the mainstream majority, which is a little weird now. I donít sit out on the edge. Four years ago, I was booed off the Oscar stage for daring to suggest that weíre being led to war for fictitious reasons. People didnít want to hear that at the time [and] I understand that. Eventually, they came around and realized that what I was saying on that Oscar stage and in Fahrenheit 9/11 is the truth.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that SiCKO will actually change anything?
MM: I do believe that things will change. When they had enough, the American people do make their feelings known. They are waiting for the moment to rise up and demand change. I hope this film helps to provide the spark for that.