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This Divided State (Unrated)

Release Date: August 19th, 2005 (NYC-Quad Cinema) by Minority Films.
September 27th, 2005 on VHS/DVD.
Directed by Steven Greenstreet.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about the controversy behind the Utah Valley State College student government's decision to let Michael Moore speak at their school.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The thought of Michael Moore alone is very unsettling for the many Mormons who live in Utah. Out of all the places he could have come to speak at, he agreed to speak in Orem City, a town that is very pure and that promotes family values---the local video store cuts every R and PG-13 movie to make it family-friendly. Greenstreet has made a very entertaining film that clashes two very opposing viewpoints. One is that Moore is anti-American and a liar, so the student government should not have asked him to speak at all. The other is that he should be heard despite his different opinions because of the First Amendment which clearly gives everyone the right for free speech. The reactions of some students and faculty are quite humorous at times. They even show some anger and rudeness at times-- especially by booing the free-thinkers and by calling Moore an evil dictator. Somebody who is unaffiliated with the school ends up suing the student government. What is particularly interesting about this film is that, although it centers on Moore's speech, he does not speak until the very end. With a lot of footage from the events that took place before the speech, Greenstreet paints a very clear picture of the truly divided--and chaotic--state of Utah at that particular time. It is a lot of fun to watch so many people react so differently to a very simple yet controversial decision.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: If Michael Moore is not evil nor a tyrant, then what is he? Why put a label on somebody to begin with. All he is simply the voice of one man who has the right to express himself. As he clearly states, Utah is a part of the United States, so it is not immune to the First Amendment. Some of the students and faculty make insightful speeches themselves. One of them believes that there is not such thing as objectivity no matter who is speaking; everything is subjective. A foreign student states that he admires that people are allowed to come together to debate and voice their opinions about something that is on their minds--which does not happen so often where he comes from in Africa. In many ways, this film rightfully urges people to keep an open mind and to simply respect others' opinions no matter how different or radical they are.



THE BOTTOM LINE: A compelling, insightful, and thoroughly entertaining documentary that raises very important issues about politics and freedom of speech (or the lack thereof).

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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