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Moore film links 911 to saudis { May 6 2004 }

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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK

UK will screen blocked Moore film
Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 911 will be screened in the UK despite its US release being blocked by Disney.
The film, which criticises President Bush's actions around 11 September, will be released by distributor Optimum Releasing in the UK this summer.

"We feel it is important that artists and commentators are always free to express their opinions," Optimum said.

Disney had accused Moore of engineering a dispute about the film's release to gain maximum publicity for it.


Fahrenheit 911 links President Bush with powerful families in Saudi Arabia, including that of Osama Bin Laden.

The film was due to be distributed by Miramax, a division of Disney.

But Disney "officially decided to prohibit" Miramax from distributing the film, the director said.

Moore, who won an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine in 2003, questioned whether in a "free and open society" Disney should be making such a decision.

Miramax agreed to distribute the documentary film but Disney signalled it was not happy with the deal in May 2003.

Disney bought Miramax 10 years ago but retained the rights to block films it deemed against its interests, such as adult-rated films.

But the New York Times said Miramax did not agree this was a situation where that clause should be invoked.

Moore told BBC Two's Newsnight he was "shocked" by Disney's decision.

"I had been given the money to make this film and the film was done, but apparently some time ago they decided they were not going to release it," he said.

Moore said Disney was "afraid of losing millions of tax breaks in penance for angering [state governor] Jeb Bush in Florida, where Disney have a lot of their investment".

"I have never seen a grosser example of what's wrong when just a few corporations own the media."


Disney chief executive Michael Eisner said Moore raised the issue now as a "PR stunt" ahead of the film's 17 May debut at Cannes Film Festival.

The director denied engineering the dispute to seek publicity for the film, saying a bid to make a compromise deal with Disney failed on Monday.

"For months I have been quietly working on this behind the scenes," Moore said.

"I was still hoping to convince Disney to do the right thing because frankly I have got to get this movie out before the election here in the US."

"Disney's decision to not put it out is not going to stop me. The American people are going to see this movie - that part I am not worried about."

Miramax spokesman Matthew Hilzik told the New York Times: "We are discussing the issues with Disney. We're looking at our options and look forward to resolving this amicably."

But a Disney spokesman said: "We advised both Moore's agent and Miramax in May of 2003 that the film would not be distributed. That decision stands."


Disney's Michael Eisner said it was "ridiculous" for Moore to say Disney blocked the film for fear of losing of tax breaks in Florida, where President Bush's brother Jeb Bush is governor.

"None of that was ever discussed," Mr Eisner said. "It is totally not true."

Disney, Mr Eisner said, had simply decided that it "did not want a film in the middle of the political process when we're such a non-partisan company".

While Miramax said it was still discussing the issue with Disney and hoped to resolve the matter amicably, Moore said Miramax was already contacting other distributors.

Independent distributor Optimum Releasing described the film's late summer UK release as "the cornerstone of our 2004 slate".

Optimum was also responsible for screening Gus Van Sant's Elephant, Amores Perros and Oliver Stone's Comandante in the UK.

No date has been set for a US release of Fahrenheit 911.

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