Michael Moore's 'Sicko' Hits Cannes

Michael Moore has done it again.

The outspoken filmmaker has made headlines over the past two weeks over a U.S. governmental investigation of his new film, “Sicko,” which makes its world premiere at Cannes today.

(CLICK HERE to read the first review of “Sicko” by Time’s Richard Corliss)

As was the case with his last film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” much attention is being paid to “Sicko” due to its potentially derisive content. The investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department over an alleged violation of a trade embargo with Cuba while filming the movie is only fanning the buzz. In fact, there was a firestorm of controversy over “Fahrenheit 9/11” preceding its debut at Cannes in 2004, and the movie went on to win the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or (and an eventual $119 million dollars at the box office).

“Sicko” takes a combative look at what Moore perceives to be the failings of the U.S. health care system. And while the investigation focuses on the details of his filming in Cuba (the embargo restricts travel to the country), Moore noted in a letter posted on the Web site Daily Kos this week that he felt he was being targeted by the Bush administration at this particular time for an additional reason.

“I can understand why [the health care] industry’s main recipient of its contributions — President Bush — would want to harass, intimidate and potentially prevent this film from having its widest possible audience,” Moore wrote in the letter, addressed to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Moore, who is notoriously not fond of Bush’s policies, wrote in his letter that the health-care industry he takes to task in “Sicko” was a major contributor to Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and to Republican candidates over the last two campaign cycles. He adamantly states in the letter that “until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide.”

And Moore stands behind his convictions. In an interview with TIME magazine, he addresses allegations that the information presented in his documentaries is skewed to fit his beliefs.

“I offered $10,000 to anybody who could find a single fact in ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ that was wrong,” said Moore, stating that he has never had to pay anyone a cent (to date). “Every fact in my films is true. And yet how often do I have to read over and over again about supposed falsehoods? The opinions in the film are mine. They may not be true, but I think they are.”

And it’s his distinct view on the subject matter, combined with his talents as a filmmaker, which blur the lines between political posturing and entertainment.

“When I’m shooting a movie, I’m always in an invisible theater seat,” he explained to TIME. “I respect the fact that people have worked hard all week and want to go to the movies on the weekend and be entertained. But the struggle for me does not come between politics and entertainment, because I know that if I succeed in making an entertaining and funny or sad film, that the things I want to say politically will come through very strong. If there ever is a struggle, making a good movie will always supersede the need to be noble.”

Today, with the Cannes premiere, an audience full of film lovers and aficionados will see “Sicko.” Moore told TIME that he’ll wait to see the reaction he gets before he plans his next film.

“I’m going to wait and see how people respond to this,” he said. “After that, I think it’s time for a romantic comedy.”

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