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Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Calls for Action, Not Hope

The award-winning ‘Bowling for Columbine’ director tackles Trump, calling him the “last president of the United States.”
By  · Published on August 9th, 2018

The award-winning ‘Bowling for Columbine’ director tackles Trump, calling him the “last president of the United States.”

Political activist and Oscar-winning documentary director Michael Moore is rolling out another provocative feature, this time centering around everyone’s least favorite political dunce — Donald Trump. In the first trailer for Fahrenheit 11/9, Moore grapples with significant issues like gun control and the complacency of the American people. You can watch the exclusive spot via HuffPost here:

In the trailer we see Moore, visibly whipped up, meeting with both Parkland activists as well as rising influential politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He presents powerful shots of hate rallies and cross-burnings, interspersed with clips of Trump giving ominous statements such as “stop resisting.” The scene in which an incensed Moore sprays water from Flint onto the home of Michigan governor Rick Snyder stands out in particular, made all the more meaningful as Moore himself is a Flint native.

Moore explained the motivations behind his new doc, which is set to premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, in an interview with HuffPost, as well. He emphasizes that having “hope” alone is passive, saying our nation should not rely on this to solve our problems. Instead, people need to take action. He hopes this film will “end the madness” that people seem content to let continue. He said:

“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.”

His goals behind the doc’s release are that it will serve as a powerful influencer and motivator for American voters in time for the midterm elections. He essentially wants to expose Trump’s “evil genius” by examining the cascade of events and sentiments that followed his presidency.

Moore is famous for this sort of political outrage. His documentary Bowling for Columbine, about the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, is a hot take on gun culture and ease of obtaining weapons in our country, and it earned him the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2003. At the awards ceremony, Moore took the opportunity to speak out against President George W. Bush and the Iraq War during his acceptance speech, a rhetoric that was met with a decidedly less than enthusiastic reaction at the time.

The next year, when much of the country was becoming less and less enthused by the antics and decisions of Bush, Moore released Fahrenheit 9/11. As its title would suggest, the film centered around the September 11th attacks and Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. There is also the obvious literary reference to Fahrenheit 451 — not regarding the cryptic maxim “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” but actually alluding to what Moore describes as “the temperature at which freedom burns.”

Fahrenheit 9/11 won Moore both critical acclaim (a much different reaction than to his Oscar’s speech only a year prior) and the top award at the Cannes Film Festival. It also became the highest grossing documentary of all time. Now, Moore has found a new form for this highly original title with Fahrenheit 11/9.

Besides heavily hinting at a dystopian reality here in the United States, just as Fahrenheit 9/11‘s title did, Moore’s new doc switches the titular date to reference Trump’s appointment as president. November 9th was, of course, the day the Associated Press called the election for Trump. This, coupled with the allusion to the dismal world of Fahrenheit 451, is a clear indication of Michael Moore’s belief that we are truly in dire straits.

Here’s his full statement criticizing hope as a solution:

“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.”

Following Fahrenheit 11/9‘s TIFF world premiere, the film will debut in the United States on September 21st.

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Kendall is a recent graduate and San Diego native who is passionate about the environment, writing, and above all else Keanu Reeves.