Filmmaker talks with Nonfictionfilm.com as his new doc opens wide
Director Michael Moore is not one to mince words. So it comes as no surprise that his new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 eviscerates Donald Trump and all he stands for. The film opens across the country today, two days after its LA premiere, where Moore shared his thoughts on what Trump is doing to American democracy.
"The threat is real. It gets worse every day," the filmmaker told Nonfictionfilm.com on the red carpet. "He has no respect for the rule of law."
Moore noted that in many respects Trump's views put him in the mainstream of corporate chieftains.
"He hates democracy, but to his credit that doesn’t make him that much different from most CEOs. They don’t run their businesses as democracies," Moore asserted. "They don’t like the idea of 'one person one' vote because these billionaires — well, what, there’s 325 million of us and, what, less than a thousand of them — I’d hate to be in their position in a country that if we really had one person one vote and we didn’t have voter suppression, we didn’t have gerrymandering, we didn’t have these things they’d be in deep, deep trouble by now."
We asked Moore to cite the interview he did for Fahrenheit 11/9 that stood out most to him, and he mentioned one that didn't make it in.
"The most memorable interview I did for the film, the subject of the interview would not let me have a camera in the room. His name was Steve Bannon. Two hours. Just Steve Bannon and myself," he recalled. "The most chilling thing and the most honest thing he said to me is, ‘The difference between our side of the political fence and your side is that we go for the head wound while you guys are having pillow fights.’ I thought, ‘Wow. Isn’t that the truth.' We have to stop the pillow fights. We have to get some gumption in us and we have to get some fight in us or we are going to go down."
Wednesday night's premiere at the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills drew a variety of stars and prominent figures in the doc world, including actors Jennifer Lewis Alyssa Milano, Richard Schiff and Ron Perlman, Oscar-winning filmmaker Bryan Fogel (Icarus), director Darren Foster (Science Fair), and Omarosa Manigault Newman, who served in the Trump administration before her abrupt departure in December 2017.
Manigault Newman recently published Unhinged, an account of her time with Trump beginning with The Apprentice and extending to her tenure as director of the White House Office of Public Liaison. Her critical view on Trump triggered a typically sharp response from her former friend, who labeled her "wacky" and "vicious."
"It’s pretty disgusting, the things that he called me and said about me and the fact that he tweeted these things, these threats of getting the Justice Department to arrest me," she told Nonfictionfilm.com. "These are just examples of how completely and totally challenged — mentally challenged — he is, and compromised."
Lewis, the star of the ABC sitcom black-ish, makes a brief appearance in the documentary. She echoed Omarosa's sentiments about Trump's psychiatric health.
"I know what mental illness looks like. I myself have bipolar disorder. Trump’s in bad shape," she declared. "I don’t hate him. I feel sorry for him. It’s a lot of pain... Twisted, sick, greedy man. He has to step down."
We asked Milano how damaging she believes Trump has been.
"On a scale of 1 to 10?" she responded. "I think he's an 11."
Schiff, who starred on NBC's White House drama The West Wing, expressed grave concern about where the country is heading under Trump.
"If you read about the fall of the German democracy in 1932, 1933, there are very, very, very close similarities. Hitler wasn’t elected by a majority. Events happened which allowed him to claim more authority and before people knew it he had overtaken any kind of opposition, any kind of checks and balances and democracy ended in Germany," he observed. "We face that threat. We have a guy in the White House who doesn’t understand or care what the Constitution states, doesn’t care about our traditions of checks and balances, doesn’t care about the fact that this democracy is on stilts. It’s fragile. You have to have faith in those institutions. Tradition is very much part of it. He’s chopping at it with an axe. I couldn’t be more fearful for the future of this country and for my children living in this country."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.