Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore Debbie Melnyk & Rick Caine

Manufacturing Dissent: Uncovering Michael Moore Debbie Melnyk & Rick Caine

"He’s a son of a bitch,” says legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter) about colleague Michael Moore. "Worse than that, he’s the most popular guy in documentary film-watching.” Maysles savages Moore at a 2004 Hot Docs seminar included here in a featurette, the highlight of this DVD. Maysles’s statement also sums up this film, made by Torontonians Melnyk and Caine, who originally planned on a straightforward TV profile of Moore but wound up turning the tables on the man who hunted the General Motors boss in the seminal 1989 doc Roger and Me. Manufacturing Dissent was the most controversial film at this year’s Toronto Hot Docs film festival, splitting audiences down the middle — you either love or hate this film, defend or curse Michael Moore. Why? Well, the movie unearths some ugly truths about Moore: how he twists the facts in his films, betrays former allies and bullies people. Yet Moore remains charming and tough, the only spokesman for the American Left who is willing to fight dirty against the filthy Right. Manufacturing Dissent is worth seeing, regardless of your final opinion about the filmmakers or Moore, because it raises these questions. After a mere week in the theatres this DVD in released but it offers a good dose of special-features. The seven-minute featurette debates the value of personal, first person documentaries that Moore has launched. Where does the truth lie? What is the difference between propaganda and point-of-view? Unfortunately, the featurette ends abruptly and begs more discussion. The 11 deleted scenes paint an even uglier picture of Moore, which would have distorted an already delicate film, and deserved to get cut. There are also outtakes of a cheesy film festival that right-wingers launched in direct reaction to Moore. However, it’s a nuisance that the outtakes cannot play all at once, only one at a time. Furthermore, a director’s commentary would have been nice to explain the filmmakers’ own experiences and opinions about their opinionated subject.

Check out Exclaim!'s Web Exclusive with Debbie Melnyk and Rick Caine (Mongrel Media)