Michael Moore dummy-spit could cost career

By Arifa Akbar

The documentary film-maker Michael Moore - who has made a fortune out of attacking America's obsession with guns, its health care system and the Iraq war - is not a man to hold his tongue and doff his cap.

In fact, far from holding his tongue he has proceeded to bite the hand that feeds and attacked his own studio bosses.

In an outburst at the Venice Film Festival that could spell the end of his Hollywood career, Moore turned on a roomful of executives from the film company that bankrolled his latest movie and ridiculed them as the perfect example of a capitalist corporation he criticises in his new film, before pointing out that he is now wealthy enough to make his own.

Moore, whose film Capitalism: A Love Story is in the festival's official competition, stood in front of executives from the big-budget studio Paramount and openly mocked them.

"Why would these companies give money to me, a guy who is diametrically opposed to everything they stand for?" he said.

"One of the beautiful flaws of capitalism is they will use the rope you give them to hang themselves if you can make a buck. Every single movie I have made over the past 20 years has made a profit. There are not a dozen people who can say that. I'm in a very desirable club," he said.

But Moore, whose film is a scathing critique of America's Wall Street bankers whom he brands "gamblers", said he may never make another Hollywood-backed film after this damning indictment of capitalism.

"I got the sense that they [Hollywood's moneymen] don't care what I think or feel ... I thought, 'why don't I make a movie that will guarantee me never getting a dime from them again?'

"I think this is the last time they will give me that money. They are not an ideology, they are just about money. I can imagine the conversation - 'Look what he's said about us' says one man, and other says 'But look how much money he made'," he said.

Moore added that he has been saving his millions so that when Hollywood finally turns against him, he will be able to fund his own documentaries.

"I have been saving up my money since Sicko to get to this day," he said. "I will always make my own movies. Now I have my own money to make them."

His documentary Farenheit 9/11 - which argues that George W Bush had waged a war on Iraq "based on a lie which he knew was a lie" - was made on a budget of around US$2m yet made a worldwide gross profit of $120m - an astounding achievement for a documentary.

Moore's is one of six US films in the running for the prestigious Golden Lion to be awarded next weekend. There are no British feature films in this year's selection, which has led some to speculate that the recession has hit the quality of homegrown film-making.

The Oscar-winning British actress Tilda Swinton, who stars in the Italian film Lo Sono L'Amore (I Am Love), yesterday refused to drawn on the poor showing of UK films at the festival.

Swinton, who plays the stately wife of a wealthy Italian businessman who falls in love with her son's friend, said she could not cast any judgement on the state of the British movie industry, but called the film in which she stars a "classic Italian film".

The Venice festival has increasingly brought Hollywood glamour to the red carpet over the years. The healthy selection of American films this year has attracted the likes of Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes and George Clooney to the Lido in Venice.

- THE INDEPENDENT

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