British Columbia

Michael Moore on being a good neighbour, Trudeau's blackface and returning to VIFF

Thirty years after Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" arrived at the Vancouver Film Festival, Moore returns to the film festival to talk about the film, his career, and what's next.

The documentary filmmaker is in Vancouver to talk about the 30th anniversary of his first film Roger & Me

American documentary filmmaker Michael Moore in Vancouver on Friday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Michael Moore, the famed American director, activist and political pundit, is in Vancouver for a 30th Anniversary screening of his debut film Roger & Me at the Vancouver Film Festival. 

Roger & Me (1989) took a closer look at the economic impact of the closures of several auto plants in Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan.

The film was a critical success and Moore went on to make several other acclaimed documentaries including Bowling for Columbine (2002), which looked at gun violence in America. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), a critique of the invasion of Iraq, is the highest grossing documentary of all time. 

Moore spoke with CBC's Lisa Christiansen on Friday afternoon about his thoughts on Canada, Justin Trudeau and how he made Roger & Me

Here's what he had to say:

On being neighbours with Canada: 

I have always admired Canada as a neighbour. I've always thought that we, as Americans, should take advantage of the fact that far from you being the little sister to us, you are and should be a great mentor. 

I wonder why and how you figured it out because you are immersed in American culture. Your kids watch violent American movies. They play violent American video games. You are not better than us. You have the same 23 chromosomes in each one of your cells that we have as Americans. So you're not, like, super humans. So how is it that you figured out ... guns in this country? 

On the Justin Trudeau's blackface incidents:

You do understand that Justin Trudeau to Americans, especially Americans of a Liberal persuasion, is like a hero in [a] sense.

You look at him next to Trump — how can you not see, you know, at least seven of the Twelve Apostles standing there? It's just so rough right now and we're full of such despair in the United States that Trudeau does look like a saint.

So when that happened a couple of weeks ago with the blackface ... it was crushing. It was absolutely crushing. 

And I know he's not a saint also. But we remember his father, those of us of a certain age. I remember being in high school and grateful that there was a man named Pierre Trudeau who would take me in for the simple and only reason that I did not want to kill Vietnamese, that he would let me live here and give me Canadian citizenship if I didn't want to kill people in Vietnam.

Michael Moore's 30th Anniversary screening of his debut film Roger & Me plays at the Vancouver Film Festival on Saturday. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

On making Roger & Me and coming to Vancouver: 

When I made Roger and Me, my first film, I was on unemployment. I didn't have any money. I sold everything that I did have, including all my vinyl records which I regret now. 

I'm sure that the Vancouver Film Festival had to pay for everything to have me come here because there's no way I could have afforded to fly to Vancouver. So people took very good care of me. I saw what a wonderful city it was. 

[And] the reception to the movie was incredible. So much so that by the end of the festival, the audience had voted the best film of the festival, not the best documentary, but the best movie.

I guess at an early age I came to believe that the people of Vancouver had good taste.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. 

Listen to the full interview from On The Coast here:

With files from On The Coast


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?