“Last night was—pardon my French—batshit crazy,” said Jon Vanco of IFC Center, referring to the surprise premiere of Michael Moore in Trumpland on Tuesday. “It was the most circusy, bizarre night on Sixth Avenue that I think we’ve ever had here.”
As we reported, hundreds of people showed up for Michael Moore’s October surprise, a performance film of the pro-Hillary one-man show he did for an Ohio crowd just a couple of weeks ago. On Wednesday, just before the debate, we returned to IFC Center for a Q&A between Vanco and the director, who described the premiere as “a street carnival that had not been sanctioned by the city.”
Needless to say, he was pleased. In just a day, a “shocking” 1,000 presale tickets had been sold, he had gained 120,000 new Twitter followers, and he was “trending above both Drake, Trump, and Gary Busey,” Moore said.
There was just one problem: The movie was put together so quickly (11 days) that the creators had no idea how to distribute it. “We finished it on Monday morning and then called [IFC] up because we thought, Oh, we forgot to have a premiere for the movie and we don’t have a distributor,” Moore recalled.
We've just been informed that "Michael Moore In TrumpLand" has broken the all-time Opening Day (Wed)
box office record at IFC Center NYC!
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) October 20, 2016
Now theaters around the country are clamoring to screen the film, but Moore has no idea how to make it happen, and is more focused on getting the video online so that “millions of people” can see it before election day.
His goal is simple: “Hopefully I’ll get a few thousand, tens of thousands out to vote, and it could mean the difference. We know that from past experience.”
With the Democratic contender showing an 86% to 93% chance of winning, you might wonder why a man who describes himself as “the last person you’d think would have these things to say about Hillary Clinton” would go to the trouble of packing 750 people into a Wilmington, Ohio theater so he could convince them to vote for her. At the time, Hillary needed the help. Moore’s performance, on Oct. 7, occurred a scant four hours after a recording surfaced of Trump’s “locker room talk” about sexually assaulting women.
Though Clinton’s lead has widened since then, the director remains convinced that too many of her supporters are doing “that end-zone dance,” and could end up getting tackled at the two-yard line on Election Day. He’s especially worried about one thing: “This year it’s not the first Tuesday of November we’re voting on, it’s the second Tuesday. Which means there’s going to be a lower turnout, because in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nov. 8 is called winter, and the chance there’ll be two feet of snow is very good. So there’ll be low voter turnout. Who shows up on the low voter-turnout days? The candidate who has the most rabid supporters.”
Moore’s new film, he said, is an effort to inject some of that rabidity into Democrats and Independents. Having already lambasted the “culture of fear that we live in as Americans” in Bowling for Columbine, the filmmaker didn’t want to employ the sort of scare tactics that the Clinton campaign has been leaning on. “I don’t want to convince people to vote because they’re afraid of Trump, and I think it’s dangerous and risky to have so much of the Hillary campaign be [growling] Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump and not say something positive about her. Because I think love is the motivator that will actually make things happen.”
As a result, Moore’s performance spends surprisingly little time skewering the Republican candidate. “Maybe some of you came here tonight thinking, Oh, Michael Moore’s got the goods on Donald Trump,” he told the crowd at IFC. “But Donald Trump’s got the goods on Donald Trump. What more could I add to the narrative to convince people that he’s either a sociopath or psychopath or both and that the country is in huge danger if he’s elected?”
As we noted in our write-up of the film, Michael Moore in Trumpland instead tries to stir up enthusiasm about Clinton among voters who are on the fence. Referring to exit polls conducted at the Murphy Theater in Wilmington, Moore said his performance “probably helped the most with my fellow Bernie voters, to get them not only reluctantly voting for Hillary but to actually get [them to say] “Come on, man, let’s do this.’ I mean, it’s not the best but she’s come a long way and she’s moved toward him, not away from him. It’s not like our first woman president is going to be Margaret Thatcher, it’s going to be Hillary Clinton.”
So will the film be endorsed by the Clinton campaign? Moore plans to send it to them, but he isn’t expecting raves. “I hope they watch it, but how can they endorse something that [jokingly] says we’re happy that she killed Vince Foster? Where I actually give people driving instructions on how to hate Hillary all the way to the polls while they vote for her? I mean, I wouldn’t endorse that if I were her.”