Michael Moore

Michael Moore

Beginning in 1989 with the critically acclaimed "Roger & Me," documentarian Michael Moore lampooned, lambasted and laid into some of America's most pressing and controversial issues and figures, from gun culture to President Donald Trump, in such fire-breathing features as the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine" (2002), "Fahrenheit 9/11" (2004) and "Fahrenheit 11/9" (2018). Born Michael Francis Moore in Flint, Michigan, he hailed from a family of automotive industry workers: both of his parents and grandfather worked for General Motors when the carmaker helped to provide the financial backbone for the Midwestern city, and an uncle was a founding member of the United Automobile Workers union. Moore's interest in political and social issues took root as a student at Davidson High School, where he parlayed his talents in drama and debate into a seat on the Davidson school board while he was just 18 years of age. He attended he University of Michigan-Flint for a year but dropped out to focus on a career in journalism; at 22, he founded an alternative newspaper, The Flint Voice (later The Michigan Voice) before taking the reins as editor at the long-running liberal publication Mother Jones in 1986. His tenure there proved short-lived: according to some sources, Moore was fired after four months for refusing to print an article about the Sandinista movement in Nicarauga, while Moore himself opined that his termination was due to the publisher's refusal to run a story about the General Motors' plant closings in Flint. Moore sued the company for wrongful dismissal and accepted a $58,000 out-of-court settlement, which gave him the seed money to start work on a documentary about the fate of his hometown. "Roger & Me" (1989) examined the impact of the GM plant closures on the citizens of Flint, and Moore's own attempt to address the situation with GM chairman and CEO Roger Smith. Though criticized for perceived manipulation of the timeline of events that led to Flint's downfall, Moore's approach - part social activist, part standup comic - proved popular with audiences, and was soon followed by a documentary television series, "TV Nation" (NBC/Fox, 1994-1995) and a foray into comedy features with the satirical "Canadian Bacon" (1995), about a U.S. President (Alan Alda) who attempts to boost his popularity by waging war with Canada. But documentaries proved to be his most successful showcase, and between 1997 and 2017, Moore tackled some of the biggest political and social issues in the world, from America's fascination with guns in "Bowling for Columbine" and the country's efforts in the war on terror in "Fahrenheit 9/11." "Sicko" (2007) focused on the American health care system, while "Capitalism: A Love Story" (2009), examined the state of the U.S. economy in the first decade of the new millennium. The ascension of real estate mogul Donald Trump to the Presidency of the United States became the focus of two of Moore's documentaries, "Michael Moore in TrumpLand" (2016), a concert film of sorts concerning Moore's live appearance at a theater in Ohio, and "Fahrenheit 11/9," which looked at Trump's rise to power. "Columbine" and "9/11" - both of which topped, at separate times, the list of highest grossing feature documentaries - proved to be the most popular of these, with the former winning the 2002 Oscar for Best Documentary feature and the latter capturing the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Others, like "TrumpLand," received mixed reviews, and a foray into live theater, "The Terms of My Surrender," was only a modest success, but his efforts as an author, which encompassed eight books, including Downsize This! (1996) and the autobiographical Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life (2011), were consistent best-sellers.