Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 10:37 UK

Michael Moore takes aim at money men

Michael Moore at Venice Film Festival
Michael Moore unveiled his film at the Venice Film Festival

By Keily Oakes
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, at the Venice Film Festival

Agitator supreme Michael Moore is back with a new target - and this time he wants the world to rebel against it.

In his sights is the American banking system and the people who run it.

Capitalism: A Love Story is Moore's latest documentary, examining some of the many things he thinks are wrong with his country.

His previous offerings have seen him attack the health care system, gun culture and the war with Iraq.

Michael Moore in Capitalism: A Love Story
I think we have an economic system that is unfair, it is unjust, it is undemocratic and goes against the principles we say we believe in
Michael Moore

"I had been wanting to do a movie about capitalism and about a year and a half ago, I finally started," he says. "I saw a lot of things happening in terms of people losing their jobs and foreclosures.

"So I decided to get going on this film because I thought we had an economy built on sand, a house of cards.

"People were deluding themselves thinking things were going to continue as they were, and principally the upper 1% was getting away with murder.

"They were collecting more and more of what exists and people in the bottom 50% were struggling to get by."

Moore says he has been making movies about the subject for more than 20 years, starting with his debut Roger and Me in 1989.

In his latest film he revisits his first target, General Motors, which had a huge operation in his home town of Flint, Michigan, until it shut its factory, decimating the local economy.

With his usual ire, Moore says the problem goes back almost 30 years ago with the introduction of "Reaganomics", which led to tax cuts for the highest earners and an easing of banking regulations.

"I think we have an economic system that is unfair, it is unjust, it is undemocratic and goes against the principles we say we believe in - democracy and ethical behaviour that says we have a responsibility to those who are the have nots and people that have less than we have."

Out of work

He adds: "I think that we must change the fundamental things about how our economy is run and how it works or we are going to continue to have problems and it is going to get worse."

Capitalism: A Love Story takes a look at the government's multi-billion dollar bank bail-out, and compares it with how workers in small companies found themselves out of jobs without severance pay.

Michael Moore at Venice Film Festival
Moore's previous films include Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11

He was heartened by the show of solidarity by the workers in a window and door factory, who refused to leave the building until they received the wages they were owed. Their sit-in protest was ultimately successful.

Moore also uncovered a shocking practice of big companies taking out life insurance policies on their workers, with one company benefiting to the tune of $5m (£3m) when one employee died, while his family received nothing.

Despite the enormity of the subject and the profound effect the downturn has had on many Americans, Moore still manages to inject some comedy into his documentary.

At one point, he tries to make a citizen's arrest on some of the banks chief executives and demands back the money given to them in the bail-out.

Asked how he could justify railing against capitalism while being backed by big film studios and distributors, Moore had a typically belligerent answer.

I have my own money to make my own movies and so this will be the last time hopefully that they will give away any of their money
Michael Moore

"Why have these companies given money to a guy who is diametrically opposed to everything they stand for?

"I take advantage of one of the beautiful flaws of capitalism which is that the capitalist will sell you the rope to hang himself if he can make a buck.

"So they only think about money - they do not really care what I believe, which is upsetting on some levels.

"So I was thinking why not make a movie that will guarantee that they will never give me another dime again.

"I have saved my money to get to this day, where I will be able to make more movies and not be beholden to them. I have my own money to make my own movies and so this will be the last time hopefully that they will give away any of their money."

Another way?

Moore is adamant that capitalism is not the way forward, but struggles to offer a real alternative for how the economy could be run, or a way to convince people they do not need so much money to buy "stuff".

He does advocate shared ownership of companies in the form of co-operatives, showing a handful of businesses where this has been a success.

So with so much information thrown at the audience in the film, and giving only his side of the argument, what does Moore hope people will take away from the movie?

"I hope the people will start to wake up a bit and see that they are participating in something that is causing them a lot of harm."



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