The fiery documentary filmmaker is back with a portrait of America’s divide.
“Fahrenheit 9/11,” Michael Moore’s polemic about George W. Bush and the War on Terror, remains the highest-grossing documentary of all time. If the national mood was splintered when that movie opened in 2004, it’s nothing compared to what it is now, almost two years into Donald Trump’s presidency.
So, naturally, Moore is channeling his most famous film to explore that exact subject: “Fahrenheit 11/9” seeks to “bring Trump down” before November’s midterm elections.
HuffPost has an exclusive look at the first trailer for “Fahrenheit 11/9,” a reference to the day Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election. It juxtaposes footage of Trump rallies and neo-Nazi protests with images of Moore using Flint water to hose down the Michigan governor’s gated driveway. Roger Stone, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Parkland massacre survivor Emma González and a host of others from both sides of the so-called aisle appear in the film.
Ahead of the trailer launch, we sent Moore a handful of questions about “Fahrenheit 11/9,” which hits theaters Sept. 21. Here’s what he had to say about the project via email.
In starting “Fahrenheit 11/9,” what was your intention? Did it change at all during the course of production?
Donald Trump is an evil genius. He has no intention of leaving the White House. Whenever he hears that another country has a president for life, he perks up and thinks, “I like the sound of that!” And he has an obedient political party that holds every seat of power backing him up.
American journalism schools have not trained students how to cover an authoritarian leader. Our media has no idea what it is up against. They’re getting steamrolled by a tyrant because Trump understands media and understands the country he lives in more than those that cover him do. This puts us all in grave danger. If nothing else, I hope this film exposes that grave danger and shows people the way out.
Has your approach to chronicling American politics shifted over the years? At what point does a documentary like this risk preaching to the choir?
The majority of Americans agree with me on the issues. I’m part of the majority. Our choir is much bigger than Trump’s choir or Fox News’ choir.
Unfortunately, our choir is out of tune, and it’s hard to hear our voices through all the sobbing and despair. That all ends on Sept. 21. The choir needs a song to sing. Once we come together in beautiful harmony, the Trump crime family will be prosecuted, law and order will be restored, we’ll have Medicare for All and we’ll declare that “Game of Thrones” must remain on the air for at least three more seasons.
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On opening weekend, “Fahrenheit 9/11” was the number one movie in every red state in the country. It was a hit in military towns and on military bases. My choir is the American people. The old guard of the Democratic Party has failed to speak to them. I will at least give them a song they can belt out.
Given the title’s connection to “Fahrenheit 9/11,” what’s your assessment of American politics today compared to when you made that film?
When we started making “Fahrenheit 9/11,” George W. Bush had a 70 percent approval rating, 29 Democratic senators had voted for the Iraq war, and The New York Times and the liberal establishment were all aiding and abetting Bush and his war. Every TV network was waving the American flag, and those of us who dissented were in a lonely minority and called unpatriotic. Outlets like HuffPost didn’t exist and MSNBC was trying to out-Fox Fox News. It was a dark, dark time, and America and the world has paid a very steep price for it.
Now we live in even darker times. So that hasn’t changed!
However, we now live in a very liberal country. Most Americans may not label themselves as liberal, but if you look at almost every major issue, the majority of Americans support the liberal position. They want Medicare for All. They believe in women’s equality and equal pay. They believe immigration is good for America. They believe in LGBQT rights and marriage equality. They want gun control. They want to break up the big banks. They want universal pre-K and free public college for all. They want to tax the rich and corporations. And on and on and on. It’s amazing how liberal the American people are when you look at it issue by issue.
What is the most startling revelation you found in meeting folks for this project?
The revolution is happening in the most unlikely of places. The resistance ― the true resistance ― is not coming from the Democratic Party or from the liberal establishment. I can’t reveal too much right now, but there is a real insurgency taking place. I don’t know if it will succeed or not. It might be too late.
Conversely, did you discover anything that offered a glimmer of hope?
Fuck hope. Seriously, fuck hope. Fuck despair, too. But fuck hope.
Hope is passive. Hope gives you permission to let someone else do the work. Hope leads people to believe that tax returns, or a pee tape, or the FBI or an adult film star will save the country. Hope, and the passivity that comes with it, is what helped get us here to begin with. It’s the lazy way out.
We don’t need hope. We need action.