25 years ago, Warner Brothers made the unprecedented decision to give a wide theatrical release to a documentary film called “Roger & Me.”
Although the title, “Roger & Me,” appears rather unassuming, the film’s premise is anything but ordinary — chronicling one man’s repeated attempts to contact General Motors CEO Roger Smith about the impact that GM’s downsizing had on the residents of Flint, Michigan, many of whom had worked their entire lives in the auto industry.
The man pursuing Smith was, or shall we say is, none other than maverick documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. Millennials are familiar with his rogue, confrontational style of filmmaking through “Bowling for Columbine,” “Farenheit 9/11,” “Sicko” and “Capitalism: A Love Story.” “Roger & Me,” however, is where Moore’s story began, and, by extension, the commercial viability of documentary film was validated by both a major distributor and audiences for the first time.
Earlier this month, the Toronto International Film Festival honored Moore and paid tribute to the legacy of “Roger & Me” through a special 25th anniversary screening. Indiewire had the privilege of interviewing Moore on camera about the film that launched his career, as well as his thoughts on the craft of documentary filmmaking in the present.
You can check out highlights from the interview below. Warner Brothers Home Entertainment will be releasing a special 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition of “Roger & Me” on October 7.
Making movies now vs. 1989:
The term “documentarian”:
The influence of “Roger & Me” on documentary filmmaking:
The impact of “Roger & Me” on the audience:
Rule #1 for documentary filmmakers:
On the Blu-ray edition of “Roger & Me”: