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NYTimes: ‘Michael & Them’

NYTimes: 'Michael & Them'

In Sunday’s New York Times writer John Anderson takes a sneak peek at the SXSW 2007 documentary, Manufacturing Dissent, and its directors Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine. The doc, which will have its world premiere on March 10 at the Paramount, is a probing and entertaining look at the phenomenon of Michael Moore. It’s a Michael Moore film without partisanship, and instead speaks volumes about the state of nonfiction filmmaking and its impact on America today. Here’s an excerpt from the full article:

“I’m still a big proponent of ‘Roger & Me,’ especially for its importance in American documentary making,” said John Pierson, the longtime producers’ representative who helped sell the film to Warner Brothers and now teaches at the University of Texas in Austin. “But it was disheartening to see some of the material in Debbie and Rick’s film. I wouldn’t say I was crushed. I’m too old to be crushed. But my students were.”

Calling the Melnyk-Caine film “unbelievably fair,” Mr. Pierson said it asks what really matters in nonfiction filmmaking: Should all documentary-making be considered subjective and ultimately manipulative, or should the viewer be able to believe what he or she sees? “I found it encouraging,” he said, “that my students were dumbstruck.”

Mr. Pierson and students in his advanced producing class have even made a project out of promoting “Manufacturing Dissent” (a title that echoes “Manufacturing Consent,” the 1992 Mark Achbar and Peter Wintonick film about Noam Chomsky). They have helped to publicize the Austin premiere with slogans that include: “Michael Moore doesn’t like documentaries. That’s why he doesn’t make them.” And “It’s never been so hard to get Michael Moore in front of a camera.”

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