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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 18:12 GMT
Moore hails film success
Michael Moore
Moore is known for his satirical books and films
Bowling for Columbine is nominated for best documentary film at the 75th Oscars.

US satirist Michael Moore has said he is "heartened" by the response to his latest film, Bowling for Columbine, a controversial documentary which explores US gun culture.

The focus of the film is Columbine High School in Colorado, the site of 1999's tragic high school massacre, when two teenagers killed 12 students and a teacher.

It has won a string of awards at film festivals around the world, including a special jury prize at Cannes.

Moore said that parents of some of the victims thanked him for making it after seeing it at a special screening in Denver.

"We went out to Denver and showed the film in Columbine and Littleton and all the parents of the victims came up and thanked me for making the film," said Moore, speaking exclusively to BBC Arts Correspondent David Sillito.

I think when some people heard the title Bowling For Columbine they thought 'What's this, a comedy about a school shooting, what's so funny about that?'

Bowling For Columbine
Bowling For Columbine explores gun culture in the US
"And of course there's nothing funny about that. I used comedy in instances which are horribly uncomfortable to get to the truth of things."

The title actually refers to a bowling class which took place on the day of the massacre, which was attended by the two students responsible. The pair killed 12 pupils and a teacher before shooting themselves.

The documentary also looks at America's relationship with guns, and interviews actor Charlton Heston who is president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as survivors of the Columbine shootings.

"This film should act as a warning to the British audience that you are on the way to becoming like us," Moore said.

"For decades you've had an ethic that says we're all in the same boat, we're all British, all have to take care of each other - a safety net.

'Hard to sell'

"As you start to snip that away, and reduce your services to those who are without, what have you ended up with - more crime, a rise in violent crime, a lot of the problems you don't want to have."

Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston is featured in the film
Moore, 48, is already known to British audiences for the 1989 documentary Roger And Me, set in his home town of Flint, Michigan, as well as the TV series The Awful Truth and TV Nation.

He is the first to admit that feature-length documentaries are a hard sell to the cinemagoing public.

"I've never seen a documentary get a response like this, I don't think anybody has, it's been very heartening.

Impossible

"On the one hand I'm not really surprised because I know the majority of Americans are sick and tired of what's going on, and they don't have a voice, you just don't hear from them, there's no forum for them to express their discontent.

"But it's virtually impossible to get a documentary released in the United States," he added.

"I think it has a lot to do with the documentary filmmakers themselves. Somewhere back, I don't know when, documentary filmmakers got the idea that their films had to be medicine.

"But I only make movies that I would like to go to myself, and that's why I made this film.





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