BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Saturday, 22 May, 2004, 20:32 GMT 21:32 UK
Michael Moore's controversial career
by Caroline Westbrook
BBC News Online

Michael Moore in Cannes
Michael Moore's new film has attracted controversy
Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has won the Palme d'Or - the top prize at the star-studded Cannes film festival.

The movie has attracted a crop of headlines over recent weeks for its thorny subject matter.

Fahrenheit 9/11 links US President George W Bush with powerful families in Saudi Arabia, including that of Osama Bin Laden, and attacks his actions before and after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

But Moore is no stranger to controversy.

His previous documentary, Bowling For Columbine, which explored the fascination with gun culture in the US, won an Oscar in 2003 and was his most successful film to date.

Moore says he "just set out to make a movie that I'd like to go see on a Friday night".

However, its victory became more memorable for an acceptance speech in which Moore ranted about President Bush and the Iraq war - which had begun just days before the Oscar ceremony.

In Europe his audience laps up anything, which spurs him on to even more absurd claims
Todd McCarthy, Variety magazine

Moore, 50, has never been one to shy away from strong subjects and political satire, both as a film-maker and author.

His first film, the 1989 documentary Roger and Me, focused on the closure of the General Motors plant in his hometown of Flint, Michigan - where many of his family were employed - and its devastating effect on the town.

Much of the film, which received huge critical acclaim, centred on Moore's attempts to secure an interview with General Motors' elusive CEO, Roger Smith.

However, it was several years before he returned to the big screen with another documentary - instead choosing the satirical comedy Canadian Bacon as his directorial follow-up.

The 1995 film, in which an unscrupulous American president attempts to wage war against Canada, was one of the last to feature the late John Candy.
Michael Moore
Moore won an Oscar for Bowling For Columbine

Moore continued to work steadily in TV throughout the 1990s, with the satirical shows TV Nation and The Awful Truth, both of which were produced by his wife Kathleen Glynn.

His books, meanwhile, include the best-seller Stupid White Men, which has sold more than three million copies worldwide and been translated into 24 languages, and 2003's Dude, Where's My Country? which also topped the New York Times best-seller list.

Moore's 1997 book Downsize This, which took a scathing look at life in the US, inspired his next documentary feature, The Big One, in which he pokes fun at corporate America while on a promotional tour for the book.

Released in the US in the same year, it failed to secure a cinema release in the UK but has recently been released on DVD.


Fahrenheit 9/11, on the other hand, has a UK release lined up courtesy of independent distributors Optimum.

In the US, the film's backers Disney have finally decided to allow it to be distributed, after first imposing a ban.

Disney chief executive Michael Eisner had previously said he did not want such a political film in an election year.

Moore's next film, Sicko, will see Moore offering his perspective on another aspect of American life - that of healthcare.

However, he admits that the motivation behind his films is to entertain as well as inform.

"I think as a film-maker my first contribution would just be to make a good movie that people would love to see and leave the theatre charged, with a sense of excitement.

"You so rarely get it and I think I can't wait around for other people to give it to me; I'm going to give it to myself and make a movie that I would like to go and see."


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific