Bowling for columbine

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Monopole Pathé Films

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Tel. 01 277 70 83, Fax 01 277 70 89


Bowling for Columbine is a tour de force from award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore – and, in the wake of September 11, it is a stunningly brave piece of work. As his country’s leading satirist and social documentarian, Moore, with this groundbreaking film, boldly asks a question that no American dare ask in these wildly patriotic times: “Are we a nation of gun nuts — or are we just nuts?”


Bowling for Columbine is a tour de force from award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore – and, in the wake of September 11, it is a stunningly brave piece of work. As his country’s leading satirist and social documentarian, Moore, with this groundbreaking film, boldly asks a question that no American dare ask in these wildly patriotic times: “Are we a nation of gun nuts — or are we just nuts?”
With his trademark charm and biting wit, Moore sets off on a rollicking journey to the heart of America, hoping to discover why the American pursuit of happiness is so riddled with massive amounts of violence.
Moore’s daring feature-length documentary marks the first time in 46 years that a documentary has been selected for Competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Blending a unique mix of humor and tragedy, the film delivers some startling punches with previously unseen and stunning footage. From the recorded tapes from the security cameras in the cafeteria the morning of the massacre at Columbine High, to the seriously injured Columbine students who take on the major corporation which sold the bullets that are now imbedded in their spines, to the Beverly Hills home of Charlton Heston, heart of the National Rifle Association, where Moore ask questions that elicit a shocking response.
Bowling for Columbine hits a personal note as it revisits Moore’s home in Michigan where every season is hunting season. “It’s an American responsibility to be armed. If you are not armed, you’re in dereliction of duty,” proclaims a camouflage-clad member of a militia group. At close range, Moore examines the garrison mentality of the suburban warrior/housewife, the people who live out the cliché of sleeping with a .44 under their pillow, and the napalm-making kid who enjoys testing recipes from The Anarchist’s Cookbook.

Long Synopsis cont’d

Pulling back to a wider frame, Moore offers his most controversial viewpoint as he goes from the pervasive violence at home to a reeling history of American military intervention over the past 50 years — including the day that the U.S. conducted its

largest bombing in the Kosovo war, April 20, 1999, the same day of the Columbine killings.

As the Enron scandal reverberates through the country, Moore’s comedic clips track how tragedy translates into a ratings war for the national media. With personal pathos he reveals the myth of America’s invincible economy in its own backyard as he exposes a welfare-to-work program that may have contributed to the youngest school shooting in America.

Bowling For Columbine is a powerful piece of filmmaking that will resonate with audiences in these increasingly violent times. For Americans, it is a damningly funny indictment of a culture of fear that is armed to the teeth and running amuck. For everyone

else, it is a humorous warning about what could happen to any country that chooses the American Way of creating a massive permanent underclass that must be fought off with a constitutionally-protected Uzi.


Michael Moore’s strategy and his motivation for this feature-length film is much different from his earlier work. He explains: “Roger & Me focused on one town and the one company that destroyed that town. Bowling for Columbine is about something much larger – an entire society gone slightly mad by arming itself with a quarter billion guns at home.”

The challenge is a delicate one, calling for savvy, yet savage empathy. “The one thing you have to realize about Michael is that he is the ultimate patriot and therein is the reason why he is critical. He loves his country. It is ironic that one of America’s leading social critics is also one of its leading patriots,” says producer Michael Donovan.
Moore illustrates his theory of fear in his classic ‘no issue too small, no public figure too sacred’ style. In the film, it is hilariously summed up in a rollicking, funny cartoon sequence. “You see, the very first sentence you learn about U.S. history as a child is, ‘The pilgrims came to America because they were afraid of being persecuted.’ They were afraid. Then what happened? Pilgrims come here, in fear, encounter the Indians and are afraid of them, so they kill them; then they become afraid of each other and start seeing witches and burn them; then they win the Revolution, but they’re afraid the British are going to come back. So someone writes the Second Amendment that says, ‘Let’s keep our guns because the Brits could come back.’ What happens? The Brits come back! What’s the worst thing to do to a paranoid? Have their fears come true!”
“Meantime, everybody’s saying, ‘Damn, good thing we kept those guns!! Whoaaaa Second Amendment, good idea!’ ” Moore’s approach to history is profoundly

entertaining. Rather than offering up an arid, academic rendition of facts, he believes an audience will be more receptive to new ideas if they are laughing.

“The early genesis of fear in America,” Moore explains, “came from having a slave population that, in just 86 years from the time of the Revolutionary War in 1775 to the Civil War in 1861, grew from 700,000 to 4 million. In parts of the rural south, blacks outnumbered the whites by a 3 to 1 margin, and there were a lot of slave rebellions, a lot of uprisings, and a lot of masters’ heads cut off. The whites were freaking out that the blacks were going to get loose.”
“So, in 1836,” Moore continues, “Samuel Colt invented the 6-shooter. Before this, we had never been able to fire a weapon more than once. In the previous 10,000 years, you always had to reload something. The Colt was portable. And cheap. So the white people down south got themselves what was called The Peacekeeper and that’s how they contained slavery for the final 25 years.”
High school history never sounded like this. Moore explains: “The U.S. Army was issued these guns and, in the next 40 years, finished off the Indians because the Indians only had rifles that fired one bullet at a time. When the South lost the Civil War, the whites became really afraid, so in 1865, the Ku Klux Klan came into being. In 1871, the KKK was made illegal and a few months later another organization is formed called the National Rifle Association (NRA), to promote gun ownership to whites only. It was illegal for blacks to own them. So the gun was used for the next 80 years to keep so-called free blacks in their place — until the 1950s when they finally had had enough and rose up.”
“What did whites do then? They ran in fear to the suburbs. And once in the suburbs, still afraid, they bought millions and millions of guns. That’s what we have — most of the quarter-billion guns in the U.S. are owned by white people who live in safe neighborhoods where there are virtually no crimes. That’s why our murders are mostly domestic: husband-wife, boyfriend-girlfriend, coworkers.”


In the 13 years since Moore made Roger & Me, he’s developed a style that is confrontational, audacious and entertaining. His documentaries are a showcase for his organic approach to investigating ideas. “Sometimes, particularly with the interviews, it’s best to exist within the moment. If you go with a strict agenda, then the film ends up

feeling rigid and constricting. It’s important for me to let the film take its own course,” asserts Moore.
In spring 1999, Michael Moore, the award-winning documentary filmmaker and television producer, director and writer, was working on his television series, The Awful

Truth, which was set to go to air that fall on Bravo (U.S. and Canada) and Channel 4 (UK). Known for his knack for fishing in the right places of the public’s stream of consciousness, he had just completed a satirically dark segment that he called, “Teen Sniper School.”
“I arranged for a weapons’ instructor to teach kids as young as two-years-old how to fire guns. This was set at a school where we taught them the best way to take out the captain of the football team, or ‘you forgot your antidepressant medication today so here’s how you can release a lot of aggression.’ ”
Because of censorship, the segment never made it to air. Days after it was completed, 12 students and one teacher were shot to death at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Moore had eerily surpassed satire and foreshadowed something toxic in the American culture, and this, in turn, cried out for more explanation of the subject matter.
“I wanted to do something on this, something more,” explains Moore. As he sifted through the voluminous news reports on Columbine, he began to see unexpected coincidences. Eric Harris, one of the two shooters at Columbine, had spent part of his youth living on an air force base unnervingly close to where Moore spent his childhood in Michigan. And then there was Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh’s partner in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 who went to the high school next to the one Moore

attended. And Charlton Heston, the gladiator of the National Rifle Association (NRA), had grown up an hour and a half north of Moore’s home. The filmmaker became intrigued by the culture in which he had been raised.

Not long after, Moore was sitting with producer Michael Donovan at a cafe in Manhattan. Donovan co-owns Salter Street Films and produced Moore’s Emmy-nominated series, The Awful Truth. “I brought up the subject about making a feature length documentary about guns,” recalls Moore. “And I don’t think I finished the sentence when Donovan said, ‘I want to do it. I’ll raise the money and fund it.’ ”
Michael Donovan and Charles Bishop of Salter Street believed Moore was the man to do this documentary and to do it well. “He’s the leading social critic in film and television in the United States today,” says Bishop. “Michael had been thinking, at the time, about the subject of health care for his next feature,” details Donovan. But this subject was bigger, more immediate, and more dangerous. As it happened, Donovan had been doing his own thinking on the subject. “Columbine, America’s obsession with guns. This has international implications because what was happening at the micro level with handguns was happening at the macro level with scud missiles and nuclear bombs. It all comes from a culture which reacts disproportionately to the reality of the situation.”
Kathleen Glynn, Moore’s producer and wife, has worked closely with him for the last twenty years and has watched him refine his craft to great sophistication without losing any of the legendary Michael Moore humor or charm. Between television, writing books and making documentaries, “Michael goes the farthest out on a limb with film,” says Glynn. “This film is a huge document. And it’s layered. On the surface, it’s factual and shocking, but above all that there is an emotional arc and that is critical because you want the audience to leave feeling something about what they just saw.”
Moore expands on this: “In someone else’s hands, this film would be ‘Hey, let’s follow the gun nuts around and laugh at them.’ But people do not go to the movies to be beaten up or to be lectured. People go to good movies because they like to be challenged and they definitely want to be entertained. So, how do we entertain and ask the hard questions at the same time?”
Moore feels comfortable hanging his hat on the fear theory. “There’s something about the human brain. We like to be scared, we love horror movies, we love Halloween. I think it goes back to our primal fight or flight mechanism. It’s our desire to keep that tuned so that when we sense danger, we know to get the hell outta there. But here’s the difference — being scared at the movies is one thing; being manipulated by the news or nonfiction shows or a president telling you there’s a mastermind of evil who is going to kill you at any time is something different.”
From the standpoint of producer Charles Bishop, Bowling For Columbine started out as a very good idea and, as it progressed, events in the news caused it to become even more significant. “The key thing to realize is that the film started out focusing exclusively on Columbine, but some months later, there was the shooting in Flint, Michigan of Kayla

Rolland, a six-year-old girl killed by a six-year-old boy. Flint is Michael’s hometown and this deeply affected him and the focus of the film shifted from Columbine to Flint.”

“This documentary exceeded our wildest expectations,” says Donovan with enormous pride. “This movie, as it’s unfolding, is ten times more powerful than I thought it would be. September 11th completely changed Michael and with it, the film. He was at the Emmys in Los Angeles and got stuck. He couldn’t get a flight out so he had to drive across America to get home to New York. It was his first time ever doing this. As he drove, everybody was talking about September 11th and he got a sense of the anguish that the American people were feeling at that time.”
The drive across America that was originally going to be a three-day bolt from LA to New York, turned into a meditative tour of the country. Moore and Glynn took a southerly route, driving through Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. Moore explains “I think before September 11th, we were kind of trying to find our way with the film and on that

drive across the country, we got talking to people. We wanted to hear what people were saying and I was amazed that there were no bloodthirsty calls for revenge that first week. There was a lot of grief and sorrow and a lot of questions. Why? Who would do this? Why do they hate us? What did we do? It’s very powerful and it got me thinking about how this film fits into the overall global picture.”
The overall picture, in Moore’s mind, is the pattern of aggressive and paranoid behavior, repeated over and over again, varying only in scope. “I could have made this film ten years ago as easily as now because ultimately this film isn’t about Columbine or even about guns. America was the same place then as it is now. It’s about our culture of fear and how that fear leads us to acts of violence, domestically and internationally.”
Of the 200 hours of footage that he shot, a portion of Moore’s time is engaged in the art of direct confrontation that has become his signature. It’s easy to be academic, it’s simple to interview harmless witnesses on camera, yet it’s cinema verité to get in the face of the people and corporations who are the source of the issues at the heart of the documentary. “The quick explanation for Michael’s technique is that he asks the questions other people wish they could ask,” says producer Kathleen Glynn. “The more precise explanation is that he asks these questions to the people who the public believes should be able to answer them — and answer honestly.”
“When you see an interview coming up, you get excited and think, ‘Oh, this is going to be good,’ ” says Glynn. “I’m in these moments a lot of the time with him,” continues Glynn, “and often I’m thinking, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe he’s doing this.’ But watching him is almost like watching surgery; it’s delicate, you have to be careful, you have to make sure you have very good preparation, and when you open it up, you have to be prepared for what’s inside and, going in, you don’t necessarily know what you’re

going to find.” From Moore’s standpoint, these interviews are his way of keeping himself out of the documentary even though he is very aware that the film is his personal

statement. It is supremely important to him that people make up their own minds on the subjects and interviews he brings forward for consideration.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say Michael is fearless,” explains Glynn with the knowledge of two decades of experience with Moore. “He’s a truth seeker and by just asking questions and being ready to hear answers that are not what he necessarily had in mind, it keeps the process very honest.”
“I was told that as you get older, you mellow out or get more conservative,” says the filmmaker. “As I get older, I just ratchet it up. I’m going to be 48 next week and I think

Bowling for Columbine is the most provocative thing in terms of film that I’ve ever made.”



Michael Moore is the award-winning director of the 1989 landmark film Roger & Me, the story of his relentless quest to confront General Motors Chairman Roger Smith about the devastating effects that GM’s downsizing had on the town of Flint, Michigan. The highest-grossing narrative documentary of all time, Roger & Me appeared on over 100 critics’ Ten Best Films of the Year lists, won the Best Documentary award from the New York Film Critics Circle and every other film critics award in America. Moore used profits from the film to establish the Center for Alternative Media, a foundation that, since its inception, has disbursed over half a million dollars in grants to independent filmmakers and social action groups.
Moore was born and raised in Flint, where at 18 he ran for the school board and won, becoming one of the youngest persons in the country ever elected to public office. At 22, he founded The Flint Voice, one of the nation’s most respected alternative newspapers, which he edited for ten years. In the mid-1990s Moore served as producer, director, writer and host of the Emmy award-winning television series TV Nation, which aired first on NBC, then on FOX.
Moore also wrote and directed the comedy feature film Canadian Bacon (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 1995). Moore’s second award-winning documentary feature, The Big One, exposed the greed and wrong-doing of big business and callous politicians across America and forced Nike to end its use of child labor in Indonesia. As an author, Moore has written best-selling books including Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American, which spent a month on The New York Times bestseller list and Adventures in a TV Nation, which he co-wrote with his wife Kathleen Glynn.
In 1999 and 2000, Moore produced two Emmy nominated seasons of the critically acclaimed The Awful Truth, for Bravo (U.S. and Canada) and Channel 4 (UK). The LA Times called The Awful Truth “TV’s smartest, funniest...political satire.”
Michael Moore has also directed music videos for both REM and Rage Against the Machine and has appeared numerous times on Politically Incorrect, The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
Moore’s latest book of political humor is entitled Stupid White Men and other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation, the current number one bestseller on The New York Times list for the past nine weeks (at the time of this printing). The book is also number one in Canada and the U.K. and is now in its 19th printing.

Filmmaker Biographies cont’d


Kathleen Glynn is an Emmy and Montreux award-winning producer who has worked on each of Michael Moore’s four films and his two television series. Beginning with the groundbreaking film, Roger & Me, Glynn has also produced Canadian Bacon (Un Certain Regard, Cannes 1995), The Big One, and now Bowling for Columbine. In addition to these films, Glynn has also produced the Emmy award-winning TV Nation and The Awful Truth for television. Kathleen Glynn is the head of Dog Eat Dog Films.


Michael Donovan is the co-founder of Salter Street Films, a Canadian film and television production house owned by Alliance Atlantis. He has 24 years experience creating, financing, producing and marketing Canadian film and television programming. His prolific work in the Canadian television industry has been recognized with 12 Gemini Awards and three International Emmy nominations.


In addition to being the Executive Vice President of Salter Street Films, Charles Bishop is in charge of all television series production (fiction) worldwide for Alliance Atlantis Entertainment Group. Bishop has close to 20 years of film and television production experience. Until he sold to Salter Street Films in 1998, Bishop ran his own production company in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Some of the many national and international awards Bishop has won include: the Gemini, Best Information Series 2000, the Gemini, Best Short Dramatic Program 1998, Best Documentary Series Can-Pro Awards 1998.


Jim Czarnecki has been a friend and collaborator of Michael Moore for over 10 years beginning with Emmy award-winning TV Nation through the The Awful Truth, Canadian Bacon, and The Big One. Prior to working with Michael, Czarnecki had already established himself in the New York film community with credits ranging from Sid & Nancy; a movie version of Sandra Bernhard’s one woman show Without You I’m Nothing; and the first season of Pee Wee’s Playhouse. Czarnecki also line produced Harmony Korine’s Julien donkey-boy, executive produced Love Liza and was Executive Producer of Ridley Scott and Associates (RSA), where he executive produced television commercials directed by Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Chris Cunningham, and Woody Allen.

Filmmaker Biographies cont’d

WOLFRAM TICHY - Executive Producer

Wolfram Tichy is the founder and sole owner of TiMe Medienvertriebs GmbH and TiMe Film- und TV Produktions GmbH. He was also responsible for setting up the first German Children's Cinema, and was co-founder of the groundbreaking first German municipal cinema in Frankfurt.
From 1977 to 1985 Tichy was head of acquisitions for Wagner-Hallig Film, and from 1985 to 1989 deputy head of the Beta-Taurus feature film department. In 1989, Tichy set up his own company, TiMe Medienvertriebs GmbH, in 1989. Having co-authored the Vancouver produced ZDF miniseries The Minikins, Tichy then set up TiMe Film- und TV Produktions GmbH in 1993 for the production of the successful TV series Lexx.

In addition to writing several biographies, Tichy was producer, co-producer and/or executive producer of more than 20 films and television series including Deeply, Eisenstein, Where Eskimos Live, Love The Hard Way and the TV series, Myth Quest. Bowling For Columbine is Tichy’s fourth coproduction with Salter Street Films, following their successful cooperation on three seasons of Lexx.

Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. is a leading vertically integrated broadcaster, creator and distributor of filmed entertainment with ownership interests in 18 specialty channels, including five established operating channels: Showcase, Life Network, History Television, HGTV Canada, and Food Network Canada; and nine recently launched developing channels: Series+, Historia, Showcase Action, Showcase Diva, The Independent Film Channel Canada, Discovery Health Channel Canada, BBC Canada, BBC Kids, and National Geographic Channel; and four channels in which the Company has minority interests: Scream, The Score, PrideVision TV and One: the Body, Mind and Spirit Channel.

The Company's principal business activities are conducted through three operating groups: the Broadcast Group, the Motion Picture Distribution Group and the Entertainment Group. Headquartered in Toronto, Alliance Atlantis operates offices in Los Angeles, London, Montreal, Dublin, Edmonton, Halifax, Shannon and Sydney. The Company's common shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange - trading symbols AAC.A, AAC.B and on NASDAQ - trading symbol AACB. The Company's Web site is

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