TORONTO – Michael Moore isn’t worried that his rallying cry to put a stake in the heart of capitalism will fall on deaf ears now that financial markets have rebounded and U.S. banks recently on life-support are posting record profits.
The people benefiting from those gains aren’t the ones who lost jobs, homes and retirement savings when Wall Street’s lust for exotic investment products precipitated a global economic meltdown, the filmmaker says.
“The Dow Jones is not how (people) measure their life; they’re operating on a different system,” Moore said recently while promoting “Capitalism: A Love Story” at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Unemployment and foreclosure rates continue to climb in the U.S., he noted.
“These are the real things that affect real people, not the fact that the stock market is back over 9,000 and Goldman Sachs is posting record profits.”
For two decades – from his 1989 debut “Roger and Me,” an examination of the economic collapse of his hometown of Flint, Mich., to more recent works like “Sicko,” which put the American health-care system under the microscope – Moore has been kicking at the establishment.
“Capitalism: A Love Story” takes aim at the economic system underpinning it all, and the result is his most stirring documentary in years.
Moore said it’s a culmination of everything he’s been saying for the past two decades.
“I think all those films have led to this place,” he said. “I’ve always thought these were films about capitalism without having to name it.”
Drawing film-goers to a documentary about the economic collapse is a challenge, Moore acknowledges.
“How can I make this a piece of cinema and entertaining, but hopefully thought provoking at the same time? I’m kind of doing this dance the entire time I’m doing the movie,” he said.
“I’m always putting myself in this invisible theatre seat asking myself: ‘Would I be enjoying this? How would the popcorn be going down?’ “
Moore’s particular brand of documentary filmmaking, highly personal and replete with scenes of the baseball hat-wearing director routinely being denied entry to corporate offices by security types, is not without its detractors.
“I don’t consider them stunt documentaries,” he said. “I’m trying to do some satire here, but do it in a non-fiction form. That’s actually a difficult thing to pull off.”
As controversial as some of the films have proven, Moore maintained that they’re factually sound.
“I’ve said for a long time, these are cinematic op-ed pieces. They’re my take on things,” he said.
“The facts in them are 100 per cent correct. The opinions, they’re mine. So, I may be right or I may be wrong. I think I’m right.”
“Manifesto” was one of the titles being bandied around for the new movie – a fitting one given that Moore’s scathing attack calls for nothing less than slaying the capitalist “beast.”
Exotic investment products, like the subprime mortgage securities that caught much of the blame for the global financial meltdown, are a main target in the movie.
Moore points out that just one year after governments stepped in with billions in taxpayer dollars to bail out the banks, Wall Street is again looking to develop new exotic investment products.
“It’s like a beast and you have to stop the beast… You can’t regulate the beast, you really have to put a stake in its heart otherwise it will just find a new path.”
“Capitalism: A Love Story” opens in Canadian theatres Friday.