Five days later after the US-led invasion of Iraq, the 75th Academy Awards ceremony took place at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
On that day, filmmaker Michael Moore was honoured with the golden statuette together with Michael Donovan for his documentary “Bowling for Columbine”, a film that represents a vibrant indictment of gun ownership in the United States. The film portrays how American citizens live in fear and ignorance, fed mainly by the media, which fuels the spiral of constant violence.
On that day, Moore did not manage to finish his acceptance speech. Shortly after he began, when he was denouncing the lies that George W. Bush’s government used to justify the invasion, he was booed by part of the audience and forced to leave the stage by the organisers.
Fifteen years later, after receiving another award, this time from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, Moore had the pleasure of dusting off the text that he was not allowed to broadcast at the Hollywood gala.
A few days before the 20th anniversary of that war, we reproduce Michael Moore’s courageous speech that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of the United States censored.
“On behalf of our producers, Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan of Canada, I want to thank the Academy for this.
I’ve invited my fellow nominees in the documentary category to come on stage with us, and they’re here because they stand in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction. We like non-fiction, but we live in fictional times. We live in times where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious President.”
That’s when all hell broke loose, Moore comments on the original event.
“We live in a time where we have a man who sends us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush.
The microphone then lowered towards the stage, the band’s sound volume increased, and Moore could no longer continue.
“And now, for the first time” – he said in November 2018 – “here is the rest of my Oscar acceptance speech.
“So, before I finish, I want to say a few words about non-fiction and how to use it as a cure for the many lies we are told, and as a non-violent weapon of revolution and change.
I have read over the years that my first film, “Roger and Me”, opened the door to documentary filmmaking, the first documentary to be widely distributed in mall theatres and multiplexes in the United States.
Yet the Academy has not admitted me as a member for 13 long years, until last month. I had heard all the reasons: ‘Roger and Me’, it’s not a documentary; ‘Roger and Me’, documentaries shouldn’t be entertainment; you’re using your flippant humour and that diminishes the seriousness and impact of what you’re trying to say; and so on and so forth.
Those of us who come from the now dead factory towns of the Rust Belt and who, like me, have only a high school education – I barely got through the last grade, failed English and failed maths, but got an A in French – those of us who come from working class backgrounds know immediately the classist tone of those who speak to us, those who went to the best schools, or even any school at all.
I encourage all of you watching at home tonight in the Gary, Indianas of America, in the Camden, New Jerseys, in the San Ysidros, the East St. Louis, and yes, the Flints and the Detroits and the Pontiacs and the Dearborns, to pick up a camera and fight the power. Make your voice heard and stop this senseless war.
Thank you and good night.