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Last Updated: Monday, 10 May, 2004, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Should Michael Moore's film be released?
Michael Moore
Director Michael Moore's controversial film Fahrenheit 911 is to be screened in the UK despite Disney blocking its US release.

The film, which links President Bush with powerful families in Saudi Arabia, including that of Osama Bin Laden, will be released by distributor Optimum Releasing in the UK this summer.

It was set to be distributed in the US by Miramax, a division of Disney but Disney signalled it was not happy with the deal.

Disney has accused Mr Moore of creating a "PR stunt" ahead of the film's debut at the Cannes Film Festival and says that it made its decision last year.

Should Disney allow Michael Moore's film to be released? Tell us what you think.


This debate has finished. Thank you for your comments.

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Paolo, UK
Should Disney have the right to block distribution of Michael Moore's new film?

Why are people so upset over this? How misinformed can you be. The US government is not censoring the film, Disney is and as a family oriented company they probably do not want to alienate half or more of their consumers. It is their right as a company to distribute what they want.
Mackenzie, USA

Of course it should be shown. In a country where the president endlessly tells the world about freedom, how ironic whenever someone tries to exercise this right, all hell breaks loose. These days have been very dark with the general public showing nothing but apathy to the constant untruths the world's politicians are caught telling.
Barry Campfield, New York

No one is preventing this movie from being distributed. One company has simply exercised its right. Freedom of speech goes two ways. The right to babble, and the right to ignore. Anyone who considers Michael Moore to be some sort of voice of truth needs to surf the net more. In my view, his views are totally unbalanced. If you really want the background on things such as 9/11, browse the net. Much easier to get multiple views and facts that way.
Christine, Seattle, WA, USA

No doubt Moore is biased, angry and even bitter. This has nothing to do with the facts in his films, so what if they are skewed and exaggerated, both sides use propaganda, always have, always will. The pro-Bush media have a massive advantage and I don't see any harm in a counter balance so I believe the film should be released, that's not the problem. People not willing to look for the complicated, not simplistic 'black and white' truth are the problem.
Stephen Willis, Dublin, Ireland

Of Course it should be released. Disney knows who Michael Moore is, what did they think - he was going to make a movie about how great war is? Michael Moore will find another distributor and the film will be huge, but what's wrong with that? Millions of people oppose this war so why should their opinion not be represented on the big screen? To those people who question Michael Moore's motives and ask if he would mind a film being made about him, he has come under constant criticism throughout his career and he understands that that is what freedom of speech is all about. His films/documentaries are brilliant.
Duncan Welsh, Edinburgh, Scotland

A similar situation happened in Spain, where a movie criticizing Aznar's politics (Hay Motivo) did not go on screen. It just can be seen on internet. Why Michael Moore just doesn't put it on the net, so everyone can see it for free? Is earning money more important than diffusing his ideas?
Alberto, Barcelona

So does anyone know where to find a comprehensive list of Disney's ownership - and other affiliations so I can prevent myself from supporting their products? If it is the shareholders' opinion that Disney is afraid of then we need to change the shareholders' opinion of what constitutes a profitable action. In order to change the business culture running things we need to make them see that acts committed for the good of the society in the long run (like creating an open information culture) are also acts good for investors. Also, if it is a publicity stunt this should teach them not to toy with consumers.
Mike, Helsinki

The film should be shown, in any case it will appear whether Disney distributes it or not. Silly political decision, what about freedom of expression (distribution)?
Tom Allison, Lima, Peru

How can we, in the US, even have this debate? Isn't this the first step towards dictatorships, censorship of ideas not popular with the reigning government? The tentacles of the Bush Monarchy need to be stopped before they silence everyone who might object.
Angelique, New Jersey, United States

Moore has known for 1 year that Disney won't distribute the film, and he is perfectly free to get a distributor. From New York Times: "Disney executives said it was made clear to Miramax last May, when it became the principal investor in the film, that Disney would not let it be the distributor. 'Mr Moore has had and continues to have every opportunity to either find another distributor or distribute the film himself,' said Disney". Disney is not suppressing anything. Moore is posing as a victim to get free publicity.
Rob Hinkley, UK

Since the death of Bill Hicks (yet another American who was more successful over here than over there!) 10 years ago, the world needs characters like Michael Moore.
Lee, Hebburn, England

UID 1656794) Absolutely YES! In the US we are still supposed to have freedom of speech. It is just frustrating that the Republicans control the media, which is generally "Sanitised for our Reading Protection". That is why I read the news from BBC and other stations abroad online. Our freedoms are being pulled away. People who do not agree with Bush are called "Unpatriotic".
Lynne, California, USA

Luckily those of us in the UK will still be able to watch this film as it is still being released here by another company. So people in the US who aren't afraid to see a film critical of their president can probably get hold of it from friends in the UK. Or via the Internet.
Colin Wright, UK

What are you people talking about? I guarantee the film will be released in the US and will probably be very successful. Why does it matter whether it's Disney that distributes it? I'm surprised by the ignorance about the US here. Are people not aware half of Americans can't stand Bush? Educate yourselves about this country before pretending to have any insight about American issues.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

I always find Mr Moore's films and books very interesting and informative if a little simplistic and one sided
Colin Wright, UK
Fortunately although Disney are going to 'protect' the American public from any critical examination of their president, I see that we in the UK will still be able to see the film and judge for ourselves. I always find Mr Moore's films and books very interesting and informative if a little simplistic and one sided. However anyone who forms their opinion based on only one source is a fool. But it does seem that the US media is self-censoring when it comes to examining the rather murky past of their president.
Colin Wright, UK

Michael Moore is a brilliant political polemicist in the tradition of many of the American Republic's founding fathers and also an heir to people like Thomas Paine and William Cobbett. It seems weird to me as an English person that the public in the USA nowadays seem incapable of hearing any criticism of their society, political system or leaders. The USA seems to be turning itself from an open, democratic society into something akin to a one party state, complete with all the trappings of 1984; censorship, state surveillance, limits to individual freedoms, doublespeak, etc. This state of affairs saddens me a lot and it appals me that our government is now the craven accomplice to George W Bush's global realpolitik.
Carole, Bristol, UK

Just because I create a film and one company will not distribute it does not mean my first amendment rights are being violated. Like it or not, Disney's motives are primarily business, they don't want to alienate their stockholders and customers. Maybe Mr. Moore should have been more intelligent about choosing a distributor.
Jason, St. Louis, US

Micheal Moore distorts the truth and presents HIS views in the form of documentary films. He is a fraud. Go see the film if you desire - simply take every word out of his mouth with a (huge) grain of salt.Micheal Moore should be forgotten,as he has forgotten honesty and fairness in his films.
Jake, Memphis TN

The Disney scandal has only raised the anticipation for F911
Marion, Los Angeles, CA, US
Of course it should be released. What are people afraid of? The truth? I'm sure Michael will find an alternative distributor. The Disney scandal has only raised the anticipation for F911.
Marion, Los Angeles, CA, US

Everyone knows that banning increases the desire to see the 'offending' material. Could this be just a Disney ploy to increase their dwindling finances?
Harvey, USA

So this is the world's beacon of democracy? First they had an election where the winner lost, then a pre-emptive war against a poor country with no evidence of a threat, then their soldiers beat up prisoners and now they are assaulting their own freedoms at home. God save America - from itself.
Paulo K, UK

If its anything like "Bowling for Columbine" then this will prove to be an incisive and thought provoking film. Lets see it!
Simon Mallett, UK, Maidstone

What is a democratic country like that of the US is afraid of?
Asimos, Cyprus

Best of luck with gettting the film into the public domain
Paul, Liverpool
I don't agree with Michael Moore's methods 100% of the time but what he does do is highlight those in power are corrupt, liars and biased. This file will hopefully show what the Bush administration is about and that personal feelings override the needs of the rest. Go Michael - best of luck with gettting the film into the public domain.
Paul, Liverpool

I would ask Disney to distribute the film. After all free speech is not just about Michael Moore's right to rant, but also about the right of audiences to listen to it if they choose. As for his central thesis - as a 911 relative, I too want to know what the Bin Laden family was doing at the time and why they were able to fly when all other flights were grounded...
Adam Gilinsky, Scotland

After such publicity - everyone will want to see this film. Sell the distribution rights of this 'nailed-on' blockbuster to the highest bidder. Michael Moore should not forget to say thank you to Disney. I'll throw in a conspiracy theory.... have you noticed that "Michael Moore's film" sounds like "Mickey Mouse film".
Paul B Watson, Manchester England

A political statement disguised as art is really just a political statement. As for all the concerns that the first amendment is being trampled, no worries, Moore will be on every talk show for the next week. In fact I saw him on television last night while I was on the treadmill. Fortunately, I had the sound off.
Joe, New York, USA

As a Republican who still believes in true freedom and democracy (and there are very few of us left) and in the American constitution, I am appalled by Disney's actions and am cancelling my family's vacation there this summer. This is what happens when a few corporations own the majority.
Kelli, Fort Lauderdale, USA

Love him or loathe him, democracies need people like Michael Moore to question the establishment and government actions. I don't agree with all of what he says, but I respect the guy. Without people like him, we would live in an Orwellian society. And because of that, I hope that Disney reconsiders, and his film does get released.
James, UK

I wonder if I produced a film which was a personal attack on Michael Moore, whether he would defend my right to freedom of speech and help me find a studio to release it?
Frank, Philly, USA

Perhaps worldwide distribution except in the US until after the election
Yuko, Tokyo, Japan
Disney, as a private company, has every right not to release a film if they so choose. We, as intelligent consumers, have every right to judge Disney by that decision. Moore also has every right to seek another distributor. Perhaps worldwide distribution except in the US until after the election (and let the American public gnash their teeth meanwhile)?
Yuko, Tokyo, Japan

I get the feeling that Michael Moore is a very shrewd self publicist. Look at the facts - he has a movie to promote! He may be able to shout loudly, but that does not actually mean he has anything to say.
Pete Fisher, Glasgow, Scotland

Oh please release it. If only to irritate my brother, who after living in the US for 20 years has gone native in a far right manner and is driven to apoplexy by anything that criticises the US.
Andy Chisholm, UK

Of course it should be released. However, Disney is not obligated to do so. Just as any other film, a studio can make a decision about whether to release a film. Let Moore go find someone else to release it for him. This does not violate Moore's freedom of speech. It upholds everyone's right to choose, even a corporation's, what they will participate in and what they will not.
Lisa, Destin, FL USA

Lisa from the US comments. Bet she has not got a passport and has no idea what the world thinks of the US. With ultimate power you need ultimate responsibility, something the good ol USA does not have.
PK, London UK

Let him release his film, publicity stunt or not
Darcy, Pittsburgh, USA
As I went through and read the prior statements made, it is amazing to me that on the majority, those of you from the UK want this film published, you want the information it may hold, you crave it, while those from the US on the whole agree with Disney that it should not be released, that Michael Moore is the "Devil". It just shows how brainwashed we are becoming as a society. Let him release his film, publicity stunt or not, I am very interested in seeing another side to this story. I am tired of having everything spoon fed to me.
Darcy, Pittsburgh, USA

I love the way so many people leap without looking or extend opinions and criticism without facts. If I understand everything Disney has said anyone who wishes to release the film is welcome to do so. They merely feel that in an election year it is imprudent to attach their corporate name to any film which blatantly chooses sides.
Mike, Atlanta, US

Irrespective of the merits of Mr Moore's film, it is still a product to be distributed by Disney. Disney is not a branch of the US government and therefore not bound to distribute a product it does not like. Mr Moore should have known better than to use a company known for its conformist views to distribute a confrontational film.
Don, Oslo, Norway

Michael Moore should be able to release his film, if people don't want to hear criticisms of George Bush they don't have to watch it, but don't ban it so no one else can see it. Bowling for Columbine brought up many issues that are important and I feel Michael Moore will have done the same with this. Presumably the reason it is being banned is because it's going to damage George Bush's re-election campaign.
Cat, Cambridge

Disney may be able to affect the commercial profitability of the film by suppressing it, but doing so will ensure it gets wider distribution and publicity than they could possibly imagine.. thanks to the internet.
Ray, Wolverhampton

Disney are under no obligation whatsoever to release Michael Moore's new documentary. This is not a free speech issue; Mr Moore is free to do what he likes with the film. He has no right however to demand that that people fund, distribute or watch his delusory drivel.
Mark R, Birmingham

Disney has every right not to release the movie
Sam Cox, Chicago, USA
Michael Moore has a track record of making misleading films. "Bowling" was promoted as a documentary, and it was nothing more than a series of staged scenes. In the famous bank scene he asked the bank if he could be given a rifle on the bank property. Disney has every right not to release the movie, after all they own it. This is not a first amendment issue as no state or federal government is involved. If Moore concentrates on facts and not on his hatred of George Bush he might have better luck in future.
Sam Cox, Chicago, USA

Michael Moore is certainly an adept manipulator of the press, and it's certainly not beyond him to use this story as a publicity stunt. This, however, should not detract from the pressure which Disney is trying to leverage in order to suppress free speech. That this pressure is in turn said to be influenced by President Bush's Florida Governor brother Jeb's threat to remove substantial tax-breaks from the Disney Corporation, gives an indication of just how serious a threat to their cause the Republicans believe Moore's film to be. There's only one person who comes out of this looking good, and that's Moore.
Fraser Marshall, Southend

When you try and ban something you only make it more popular. As Disney are no fools maybe this is a bit of their own doing...they try and ban it, they give in, everyone goes to watch it, Disney make a fortune whilst keeping the moral ground...fantastic PR stunt!
Simon, London, UK

In the US they pride themselves on their right to free speech and freedom of expression. However, should your views be different to the mainstream opinion, or if you dare to criticise the current administration, suddenly you're silenced or shouted down for being un-patriotic.
Fiona, UK

If Disney don't want to release it, that's their choice. Freedom of choice works both ways. Perhaps Mr Moore should use someone else, or release it online.
Paul Weaver, London, UK

I heard that Disney were holding back because of potential loss of tax breaks at theme parks and suchlike. So when Bush loses the election and Kerry gets in, will he remove the tax breaks because the documentary wasn't shown? No wonder the takeover bid was pulled.
Richard Philips, UK

Disney has every right to refuse release of a film. Possible reasons are numerous. Perhaps the film is indeed too controversial for a "light entertainment" company like Disney, or perhaps it is just a poor film not worthy of release. Disney should not have to justify its position in public; after all, it is a business and not some sort of charity. Moore, on the other hand, is simply being his usual ignorant, alarmist self when he cries "Free Speech!" and asserts his "right" to have his films released by the studio of his choosing. Please go find another studio (with little to no effort, given current publicity), release the film, cash in, and shut up.
Bob Peck, Raleigh, NC, USA

What kind of questions is this? Don't we live in democracies that cherish the right to free speech? Of course his film should be released. I doubt it breaks any laws on obscenity etc. Release it, watch it and then form your own opinion on its worth for heaven's sake!
John Franklin, Macclesfield, UK

To try and silence him would be a mistake
Gerry Noble, Salisbury, UK
Of course it should be released. If America is trying to export democracy and freedom they should have nothing to fear from the healthy criticism of one man. Personally, I see Michael Moore as a patriot who truly loves his country and will do anything to save it. To try and silence him would be a mistake, and yet another example of America's growing inability to handle reality.
Gerry Noble, Salisbury, UK

M. Moore's excellent work won't probably be released until after the US election. Jeb Bush, governor of Florida and Disney's sponsor will not let this documentary ruin his brother's campaign. Democracy and freedom of speech at its forte!
Jake, Backs, UK

I can't think of a single reason why it shouldn't. All I hope is that Moore actually gets some proper facts in there instead of vague connections and heavily manipulated statistics.
Alex, Edinburgh

It just goes to prove what I have always known the "land of the free" is not that at all, and that the hypocrisy of the United States is beyond belief.
Alex, UK

Yes it should be released. Who do you trust more Michael Moore, President Bush or Disney? Controversial this film may be however if it reveals some of the truth surrounding US foreign policy then it is worth viewing.
Roger, Stowmarket, Suffolk, UK

I applaud Disney for not giving him a mouthpiece
Lisa, USA

Michael Moore is an angry, bitter man who likes to rewrite history and call it art. I'm tired of propaganda being used to spread lies, and I applaud Disney for not giving him a mouthpiece to spread his bitterness. You have to go back through several administrations to find fault for 911. The worst part about all of this is that people will see the words "Bush" and "Saudi oil" and immediately make the ignorant assumption that Moore's fantasy tale must be true.
Lisa, USA

I don't care if he is pulling a media stunt! Michael Moore's information has to be published because it is something we need to know about. There are no other places where you could see such a daring attack on institutions and corruption.
Guy , Uppingham

Any attempt to question the policies, backgrounds or activities of those in high office in the US, whether they be politicians, businessmen or whatever is blocked whenever possible. It's seemingly un-American to not tow the line.
Chris, London, UK

The land of the Free and the home of the brave....just as long as you sing from the same hymn sheet
Gerry, UK

I believe the film should be released and find it ridiculous that Disney is against the release because it criticises George Bush. What ever happened to freedom of speech?
Bella Carr, UK

Mike Moore has the right to make a piece of leftist propaganda and call it a documentary. Disney has the right to decline to distribute it. What's the problem?
Dave Mate, Nevada, USA

I don't see why not. After all America is 'The land of the Free' and 'Freedom of Speech' is taken very seriously out there, so this film should be no exception. What is Disney and the Government scared of? It's a shame that in a 'Democracy' as great as the United States, people are not allowed to put their views forward. Democracy? What democracy?
Nicky, London, UK

Of course it should be released! Michael Moore is a genius. He dares to dig where other journalists doff their caps and simper to the corrupt and evil empire that is the USA. Go and watch 'Bowling for Columbine', if you need any proof of Mr Moore's credentials.
Bazza, Bonnie Scotland

"Land of the Free"? "The worlds greatest democracy"? It seems only if you have bucket loads of cash and agree with the establishment. Michael Moore is a genius. Just shows what "democracy" really is in the eyes of the US corporate backed world
Vish, UK

Of course it should be released. Moore is one of the few Americans brave enough to cut through the hypocrisy and tell it like it is. It is a pity though that he is also often rather unfocussed and has a tendency to rant above and beyond the call of duty. I don't always agree with everything he targets but America would be a far poorer place without him.
Iain, UK




SEE ALSO:
Disney calls Moore furore 'stunt'
06 May 04  |  Entertainment


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