Michael Moore, winner of the 2002 Oscar for Best Documentary for his controversial “Bowling for Columbine,” failed to meet submission requirements of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a WorldNetDaily investigation reveals.
While critics of the filmmaker and author have called on the academy to investigate whether Moore fabricated scenes in the movie, it also appears he misled the academy about the film’s eligibility on purely technical grounds.
Candidates for Best Documentary feature have unique procedural requirements for eligibility. According to Rule 12, qualification for the 75th Annual Academy Awards in this category demanded that films be exhibited in a commercial theater for paid admission for seven consecutive days in either Los Angeles County or Manhattan prior to Sept. 30, 2002, and that the entire engagement of the theatrical run be displayed in a major newspaper’s movie pages.
While “Bowling for Columbine” reportedly had its qualifying run at Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 in Los Angeles County from Monday, Sept. 9, through Sunday, Sept. 15, the required major newspaper ads were never published.
A search through a library microfilm archive of Los Angeles Times issues from Friday, Sept. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 15, 2002, turned up only four published performances of “Bowling for Columbine” in the movie pages. Those performances were at 10 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7. Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 had no films listed for either Friday morning, Sept. 6, or Friday morning Sept. 13. “Bowling for Columbine” had no listing at all in the days following Thursday, Sept. 12.
A run of only four days would fail to satisfy the requirements of Rule 12. Even a run of seven days accompanied by published notice of only four days’ performances would fail to satisfy the requirements of Rule 12.
While in 2001, the academy required submission of photocopies of newspaper movie pages containing the qualifying ads or listings, in 2002, the photocopies were no longer required.
Michael Moore (courtesy United Artists)
Even before the latest findings, “Bowling for Columbine” was already one of the most controversial movies of its time. The film ostensibly blames the Columbine High School massacre on the U.S. military-industrial complex, as Littleton, Colo., is home to a Lockheed Martin factory. Moore suggests the factory makes weapons of mass destruction. In fact, it makes rockets that carry TV satellites into space.
At the March 23 Oscar festivities, Moore received a standing ovation when he won the award. But when he launched into a fiery criticism of President Bush and the Iraq war, his remarks were met with a cacophony of boos.
“We are against this war, Mr. Bush,” he shouted. “Shame on you, Mr. Bush. Shame on you!”
Dan Gifford, an Academy Award nominee himself, has called on the academy to investigate whether Moore “fabricated scenes and video of real people that has been edited to manufacture a fictional reality intended to mislead viewers.”
If it is determined those accusations are true, Gifford, the producer of “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” wrote to Bruce Davis, executive director of the academy, Moore should be stripped of the Oscar and it should be awarded to the runner-up.
“Failure to conduct such an investigation and act according to its findings will diminish the stature of the Oscar, establish an exploitable precedent for future rule violators and be grossly unfair to the other nominees who did follow the rules,” Gifford wrote. “That unfairness will be particularly bitter to those whose film would have been nominated in place of ‘Bowling for Columbine.’
“Even the accusation of such rule violations taints the Academy Award with implications of politics and favoritism that are most damaging,” he continued. “So, I again respectfully ask that you not delay your attention to this matter.”
That letter was written April 21. Repeated attempts to reach Davis by telephone were unsuccessful.
Moore was unresponsive to e-mail requests for an interview and phone calls to his publicist.
As for the latest controversy over the film, Gifford was not surprised. Nor did he think the eligibility issue will have much resonance in Hollywood.
“On the political left, ends justify means,” he said. “So, even if Michael Moore lied in his film to promote a leftist vision, his lies are defended as truth by those who agree with him.”
Even if he lied in his submission to the academy, Gifford concluded, that deceit, too, would be overlooked by those who agree with him – including the vast majority of the entertainment-industry elite.
Los Angeles radio talk-show host and WorldNetDaily columnist Larry Elder is currently working on a documentary called “Michael & Me,” patterned after Moore’s “Roger & Me,” but turning the tables on the filmmaker. He, too, is incensed about the way Moore has taken liberties with the truth in his “documentaries.”
“As far as I know, the academy is doing nothing,” Elder said.
Miramax, a Walt Disney Company, is bankrolling Moore’s latest project, “Fahrenheit 911,” a film that will reportedly show audiences the U.S. government and President Bush were culpable for Osama bin Laden’s Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Bowling for Columbine” has grossed over $21 million.
Besides his Oscar honors, the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in France created a special, one-time-only award to honor “Bowling for Columbine” and gave it a 13-minute standing ovation.
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