Berlin: Michael Moore Delivers Surprise Video Message to Festival Audience

Berlin: Michael Moore Delivers Surprise Video Message to Festival Audience

Michael Moore has surprised Berlinale
audiences with a special video message explaining his absence at the festival. In
it, the director, who is recovering from pneumonia, spoke of his pride in the
fact that “this is the first time ever that a film has been introduced by a man
in his bathrobe. I hope that counts for something.”

Moore had been expected to accompany the
European premiere of “Where to Invade Next.” The decision to pull out was
announced on Tuesday in a brief written statement. But the colorful director
clearly wanted to send a more personal message — and the last-minute screening of the film added on Wednesday now seems likely to have been
arranged for that very purpose.

In the video, Moore is seen speaking from
his home. In robe and trademark baseball cap, and looking conspicuously
ill, he confirmed that his doctors would not allow him to fly.

He then spoke of his fondness for the
Berlinale, where he brought his first film, “Roger & Me,” back in 1990, and
said, “It really pains me not to be there.” 

WATCH: “Michael Moore on Entertaining Audiences and ‘Where to Invade Next'” 

As it happens, Germany features in the new
film, in which Moore seeks to borrow the best features of other countries as exemplars
for his own. After admiring Germany’s short working week, the documentary enters
one of its most moving phases as he remarks on the country’s willingness to continually
acknowledge its Nazi legacy, and so “free yourself to be better people.” 

Filming in Germany, he said, “was a pivotal
moment for us and for the making of the film.”

Ill or not, Moore typically felt obliged to
make a political statement. He first commended Germany for its “kindness
towards refugees, which has moved me and millions of Americans.” Then, while alluding
to the problems that had beset the country’s original open door policy on Middle
East refugees, he added that nonetheless, “In your hearts your instinct was to
help in a massive way. It’s more than anything we would do, but we effectively created
the problem in that part of the world.

“We tore it apart recklessly, and then left
Germany and others in Europe to clear up our mess.”

The other notable American
absentee at this year’s Berlinale, Harvey Weinstein, told Variety that production delays on boxing biopic “Hands of Stone”
had prevented himself and Weinstein Company COO David Glasser from attending
the festival.

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