Michael Moore says he won’t submit “Fahrenheit 9/11” for consideration as best documentary at this year’s Academy Awards. Instead, he’s going for the bigger prize of best picture.
Moore’s critically acclaimed film slams President Bush’s war on terror as ill-advised and corrupt. The movie has cheered Democrats but enraged the president’s supporters, who booed Moore when he visited the Republican National Convention last week.
“For me the real Oscar would be Bush’s defeat on Nov. 2,” Moore told The Associated Press during a phone interview Monday from New York.
The $6 million film has become a sensation that collected $117.3 million in the United States this summer, despite an early roadblock when the Walt Disney Co. banned its Miramax Films division from distributing the political hot-potato.
In the midst of the presidential campaign, Moore’s announcement is a strategic move for his Oscar campaign. Documentaries and animated films have their own categories, but the conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that those niche awards can limit a film’s appeal in the overall best picture class.
Moore said he and his producing partner, Harvey Weinstein, agreed “Fahrenheit 9/11” would stand a better chance if they focused solely on the top Oscar.
He also said he wanted to be “supportive of my teammates in nonfiction film.”
So many documentaries — such as the gonzo fast-food satire “Super Size Me” and the sober look at Arab television news in “Control Room” — have made the rounds in theaters recently that Moore, who won the best documentary Oscar for “Bowling for Columbine,” said he wanted to give others a chance.
“It’s not that I want to be disrespectful and say I don’t ever want to win a (documentary) Oscar again,” Moore said. “This just seems like the right thing to do...I don’t want to take away from the other nominees and the attention that they richly deserve.”
Moore also hinted in a recent interview in Rolling Stone he would like the movie to play on television before the presidential election. According to the rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, playing on TV would invalidate its contention in the documentary category, but not for best picture. With the movie coming out on DVD Oct. 5, it’s not clear whether the TV deal would happen.
Regardless of who wins the election, Moore said the movie’s presence at the Academy Awards in February will provide another forum for Americans to think about its message.
“The issues in the film — terrorism, the war on terrorism, the Iraq war — will be with us five months from now, sadly,” Moore said. “The issues that the film raises will be no less relevant, in the new year.”