Michael Moore may have come into this year’s Toronto International Film Festival with the most high-profile documentary about the current economic crisis, but it’s the less well-known non-fiction filmmaker Chris Smith who brought the best film on the subject to town.

Smith made his first appearance at TIFF with the beloved cult classic American Movie in 1999, and has returned this year with Collapse, easily the best movie he’s made since. Collapse is a one-man study of Michael Ruppert, a former police officer and independent reporter who predicted last year’s economic collapse with eerie accuracy years ago.

Ironically, Smith never set out to make a movie about this timely subject. “We were researching another project about the CIA when we started talking to Michael and he began telling us about things that were completely different. But that’s one of the things that I love about independent filmmaking. You literally can start making one movie and end up with something else entirely,” the director told Metro.

What Smith ended up with was a film about a prophetic thinker who no one would listen to. Ruppert dedicated most of his life to warning people about the impending financial and fuel crisis, but his message fell on deaf ears. Despite the fact that Ruppert was a thinker ahead of his time, he received no recognition and now struggles to pay his rent.

“The movie is very much a study about him and how his obsession with the collapse of industrial civilization has sort of lead to the collapse of his life,” said Smith. Despite this rather sad and tragic layer to the story, the director claims Ruppert is happy with the film.

“I think he’s just happy he finally got an opportunity to get his message out there,” Smith said.

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