Academy Award-winning documentarian Michael Moore is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Traverse City Film Festival today with a worldwide screening of one of his favorite documentaries of the year, Johanna Hamilton’s “1971.” In July, Moore enlisted the help of his Facebook friends and Twitter followers to find venues around the world that would participate in this global event, which includes not only a screening of the documentary but also a live discussion and Q&A with the filmmakers and subjects of the film. The event takes place today at 3pm and includes theaters in England, Australia, Norway, China, Australia and Malawi.
For Moore, who founded the TCFF in 2005 in order to create a festival by a filmmaker for filmmakers, the purpose behind the multiple continent screening is, in his own words, “To take the TC Film Fest beyond its borders and see what kind of global village we can create around watching a great, thought-provoking and discussion-stimulating movie.” In addition to the screening and Q&A session, audiences in participating theaters will be able to see and hear one another as they settle in to watch the movie.
Directed by Hamilton (“Pray The Devil Back to Hell”) and executive produced by Academy-Award nominee Laura Poitras (“My Country, My Country”), “1971“ is the true story of a brave group of ordinary citizens who risked their lives to expose the massive, unlawful surveillance program by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI at the height of the Vietnam War.
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Combining reenactments and archival footage, “1971” is about “The Citizen’s Committee to Investigate the FBI,” who confess on camera for the first time ever to breaking into the FBI field office, confiscating thousands of secret files and leaking them to the press. Told like a riveting heist movie, the documentary reveals a large-scale FBI spying operation of political activists and civil rights leaders known as COINTELPRO. Cargo Releasing nabbed global distribution rights to “1971” following its world premiere at Tribeca Film Festival.
The idea is quite ambitious, but it follows in the footsteps of another groundbreaking announcement at the festival. At the opening night gala of the TCFF on July 29th, Moore gave a quarter of a million dollars to the festival, an amount that represents the remaining earnings from his first movie, “Roger & Me.” “I wanted to do something special, something big to honor all the good over the years that has resulted from my first film,” said Moore. “This donation will be used specifically to address the lack of access across most of the country for people who want to go to a movie theater and see a foreign film or a documentary.”
The Traverse City Film Festival runs through August 3rd.