Published June 15, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO – Filmmaker Michael Moore says he had footage of prisoner abuse in Iraq long before the atrocities captured international attention, but decided to stay quiet until his new movie came out. Now he's questioning that decision.
"I had it months before the story broke on '60 Minutes,' and I really struggled with what to do with it," Moore told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I wanted to come out with it sooner, but I thought I'd be accused of just putting this out for publicity for my movie. That prevented me from making maybe the right decision."
Moore captured the footage for his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11," which debuts in theaters nationwide June 25. It shows an American soldier fondling a prisoner's genitals through a blanket. Soldiers also laugh and pose for photos while putting hoods over Iraqi detainees.
"The stuff with the detainees in my movie is even more shocking than what we saw in that prison because it happens outdoors and is more commonplace," Moore said.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival (search) in May. It is critical of President Bush's response to the Sept. 11 attacks and ties him to Usama bin Laden's family.
The film created controversy, and intense interest, when Disney Chairman Michael Eisner (search) said he wouldn't let the film be distributed. Lions Gate Films (search), IFC Films and the Fellowship Adventure Group are now handling its distribution. It will be in 700 theaters, the largest opening for a Moore film.