Michael Moore: Hollywood Has Dried Up
By Jane Boursaw Posted Aug 10th 2010 12:00PM
Are American films getting dumber? Why does it seem like there just aren't that many smart films made in the U.S. anymore?
The topic came up when I was talking to Michael Moore about his selections for the Sixth Annual Traverse City Film Festival, which took place a couple of weeks ago. He said the "Hollywood Machine" just isn't creating that many great films in this country.
"The money has really dried up since the crash," Moore told PopEater. "They only really want to spend money on sure bets. People don't want to take risks, so we're missing out on an American art form that could really speak to the country right now in profound ways."
He's talking about the fact that during its six-year run, the Traverse City Film Festival hasn't been held during a time of peace and economic prosperity -- his words, but he has a point. During tough times, people turn to movies to be inspired and comforted. "The films that came out during the great Depression and during the Vietnam War era were really bold and brave. Where are these films these days? We rarely get to see them from the Hollywood Machine," the 'Fahrenheit 9/11' director said.
Of the 80-plus films shown at the Traverse City Film Festival this year, only a half-dozen or so were American independent feature films, "because I just couldn't find them," said Moore. "They don't exist, and that's sad. But they exist in Korea, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Russia."
In fact, the largest grossing film this year at the festival's home base -- the restored downtown State Theatre in Traverse City -- was the little gem 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.' If you're not familiar with it, it's a two-and-a-half hour Swedish film with subtitles, a complicated story and no major actors. That says something about the fact that moviegoers are hungry for smart films.
Don't get me started on the American remake, starring Daniel Craig and Robin Wright in the roles originally played by Michael Nyqvist and Lena Endre. (Aat this writing, I don't believe the role of Lisbeth, played by Noomi Rapace, has been cast yet.) Why not just distribute the original film in American theaters? If we love the film here in Traverse City, surely it would be just as beloved in other American theaters.
One of the American films shown at the Traverse City Film Festival this year was 'Lebanon, Pa.' from director Ben Hickernell. He believes that the film industry is a tough nut to crack, especially if your film doesn't fit neatly into a particular genre.
"In this market, there are fewer and fewer films getting sold overall, especially these little films that are really just kind of dramas and touch people," said Hickernell. "['Lebanon, Pa.'] isn't a horror film. It's not an action film. It's not an easily marketable film in one way, but I disagree with that, because I do think people are moved when they see it. It's a film that speaks to people, and that's what movies are all about in the end."
Yes, that is what movies are all about in the end, and I believe Americans would flock to see smart independent films like 'Lebanon, Pa.,' which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. "We're just trying to get enough buzz and interest through the film festival circuit that some distributor says, 'Okay we can make money on this, and we'll put it out,'" said Hickernell.
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