Michael Moore Speaks Out On Sicko

The Bush administrations investigation into Michael Moore’s trip to Cuba for his upcoming documentary “Sicko” has made many headlines in recent weeks. Yet the filmmaker hasn’t commented on it – going for the smarter option of letting the free publicity generated actually work for him.

Now, on the eve of the debut at the Cannes Film Festival tomorrow, the e-mail inclued below was sent from Moore to his mailing list members talking about the film and broaching the subject:

“It’s a wrap! My new film, “Sicko,” is all done and will have its world premiere this Saturday night at the Cannes Film Festival. As with “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” we are honored to have been chosen by this prestigious festival to screen our work there.

My intention was to keep “Sicko” under wraps and show it to virtually no one before its premiere in Cannes. That is what I have done and, as you may have noticed if you are a recipient of my infrequent Internet letters, I have been very silent about what I’ve been up to. In part, that’s because I was working very hard to complete the film. But my silence was also because I knew that the health care industry — an industry which makes up more than 15 percent of our GDP — was not going to like much of what they were going to see in this movie and I thought it best not to upset them any sooner than need be.

Well, going quietly to Cannes, I guess, was not to be. For some strange reason, on May 2nd the Bush administration initiated an action against me over how I obtained some of the content they believe is in my film. As none of them have actually seen the film (or so I hope!), they decided, unlike with “Fahrenheit 9/11,” not to wait until the film was out of the gate and too far down the road to begin their attack.

Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, launched an investigation of a trip I took to Cuba to film scenes for the movie. These scenes involve a group of 9/11 rescue workers who are suffering from illnesses obtained from working down at Ground Zero. They have received little or no help with their health care from the government. I do not want to give away what actually happens in the movie because I don’t want to spoil it for you (although I’m sure you’ll hear much about it after it unspools Saturday).

Plus, our lawyers have advised me to say little at this point, as the film goes somewhere far scarier than “Cuba.” Rest assured of one thing: no laws were broken. All I’ve done is violate the modern-day rule of journalism that says, “ask no questions of those in power or your luncheon privileges will be revoked.”

This preemptive action taken by the Bush administration on the eve of the “Sicko” premiere in Cannes led our attorneys to fear for the safety of our film, noting that Secretary Paulson may try to claim that the content of the movie was obtained through a violation of the trade embargo that our country has against Cuba and the travel laws that prohibit average citizens of our free country from traveling to Cuba. (The law does not prohibit anyone from exercising their first amendment right of a free press and documentaries are protected works of journalism.)”