Wingnuts’ Panties in a Wad Over Film Festival Founded by Michael Moore

Conservative filmmaking is like conservative stand up comedy: It sucks. Conservative filmmakers put their idealogy up front, which makes their films read like what they are: wooden, unimaginative propaganda.

Conservatives rarely produce fictional works, but when they do the films are often quite violent – “Passion of the Christ,” is a prime example. Rather, they gravitate toward psuedo-documentaries that are either “answer” films – “Michael Moore Hates America,” for example – or barely concealed propaganda pieces such as “Confronting Iraq” and “WMD” that seek to shore up the fading “rally ’round the flag” effect among the rightwing base about President Bush’s quagmire in Mesopotamia.

So why would a group of rightwingers want to inflict a festival of their bad films on the citizens of Traverse City, Michigan?

They are in a dither because film fans have gotten together to found the Traverse City Film Festival. The festival is avowedly nonpartisan – and it sounds like fun:

Among the 31 films are four classics that will be shown free of charge on a 40-foot-high, inflatable screen in a park beside Grand Traverse Bay: “Jaws,” “The Princess Bride,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Casablanca.”

At the paid, indoor screenings, festivalgoers can choose from the very latest Indie and foreign film fare – titles like Sundance and Cannes winner “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” “Mad Hot Ballroom,” a documentary about 11-year-olds who ballroom dancing competitors, which will open the festival, “Broken Flowers,” the latest from independent film pioneer Jim Jarmusch and the hardhitting documentary, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.”

These are films that only smart people can enjoy – so is that what has these un-smart Americans all riled up?

No. They don’t like that it that founder-in-chief of the festival is Michael Moore, the rightwing’s leftwing icon. The Oscar-winning documentarian is a Michigan native who lives in New York and has a home near Traverse City.

The fact that none of Moore’s films will be screened at the festival, and that the criteria for selection is filmmaking quality, not political agenda, makes no difference to the fun-spoilers on the Right:

”People are fed up and tired with the extreme left-wing radical fringe — America haters, family haters, Christian haters,” said Genie Aldrich, a resident of nearby Suttons Bay and founder of the Traverse Bay Freedom Film Festival. She tried unsuccessfully last month to dissuade the city commission from letting Moore’s group show films in a municipal waterfront park.

”I like it when Republicans take ideas of mine,” said Moore, a Flint, Mich. native who has residences in neighboring Antrim County and New York City. ”I have a few more where those came from, if they’d like to sit down and talk.”

Aldrich said the alternative festival would feature a dozen movies, including favorites such as ”Top Gun” and ”Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The others will be independent, politically oriented productions. Among them: ”In the Face of Evil,” a tribute to Ronald Reagan; ”Confronting Iraq,” a defense of the war in Iraq sponsored by the conservative group Accuracy in Media; and ”Michael Moore Hates America.”

The Freedom Festival is scheduled for July 29-30 — overlapping with Moore’s festival, which will run from July 27-31.

The festival’s website is


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