We can probably agree that as someone interested in and making documentary films, like myself, it is virtually impossible not to come across Michael Moore. As soon as we arrive at giving opinions about his work, though, the consensus already ends; some view Michael Moore as an original, entertaining documentary filmmaker who captivates the viewer with his feisty on-screen presence, wit and irony, as someone who has rightly won an Oscar (“Bowling for Columbine”) and is one of the highest-grossing documentary filmmakers (“Fahrenheit 9/11”) ever. Others denounce him as a mouthpiece of left propaganda, as an ideologue who intentionally avoids balanced viewpoints and advances his political agenda at all costs.
Yet, as I followed some of the debate about him in news articles and opinion pieces I realised that both sides were loaded with emotions and logical fallacies, that at the centre of the debate were often not the filmic elements of Moore’s documentary films but his persona and political viewpoints. Ironically, many critics fell for the very same things they accused Moore of.
Since I didn’t know much about Moore’s works and wanted to learn more about the different nuances of documentary film theory, I decided to use the public discourse as an opportunity to share my take on the validity of Michael Moore’s films. My essay is an attempt to move away from the charged debate and instead give a balanced analysis using film theory and history.
I hope that my findings will not only be stimulating for you if you are curious to learn more about Moore or documentary film in general but also help me grow as a documentary filmmaker further down the road.
Publication of essay: 2018
Word count: 4000