Monday, 14 May 2007

Bush vs. Michael Moore part 2: Sicko violated U.S. trade embargo on Cuba

Not yet released and already the new Michael Moore documentary stirs controversy. The canadian filmmaker, known for Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 (which sequel is in pre-production) is the object of a U.S. federal investigation on infringement of the Cuban trade embargo, In March Moore took 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming health-care documentary. Allegedly the workers were given medical treatment in Cuba to demonstrate how they were neglected by the american health-care/health insurance institutions. Traveling to Cuba turns out to be a crime according to American laws. [Which is fair enough, but then why Spielberg and Charlize Theron were allowed what they deny to Moore?]

Sicko – this is the title of the film, not a reference to Moore's addiction to generate commotion around his work – features a dissection of the U.S. health-care system; the film was inspired by a segment on Moore's TV show The Awful Truth, in which he staged a mock funeral outside a health-maintenance organization that had declined a pancreas transplant for a diabetic man. At last September's Toronto International Film Festival, Moore previewed footage shot for Sicko, presenting stories of personal health-care nightmares. One scene showed a woman who was denied payment for an ambulance ride after a head-on collision because it was not pre-approved.

Moore labels the investigation as an abuse motivated by political agenda: I believe that the decision to conduct this investigation represents the latest example of the Bush Administration abusing the federal government for raw, crass, political purposes.

The timing of the investigation is reminiscent of the firestorm that preceded the Cannes debut of Fahrenheit 9/11, which won the festival's top prize in 2004. The Walt Disney Co. refused to let subsidiary Miramax release the film because of its political content, prompting Miramax bosses Harvey and Bob Weinstein to release Fahrenheit 9/11 on their own. The Weinsteins later left Miramax to form the Weinstein Co., which is releasing Sicko.

Sicko premieres May 19 at the Cannes Film Festival and debuts in U.S. theaters June 29.

Here is what CNN and ABC news have to say on the matter:

related links: Michael Moore's website - video: The Awful Truth (mock funeral)

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