In the documentary “Where to Invade Next,” Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore (who once again serves as director, producer and star) goes to several different countries around the world to see how they use American ideals and concepts. The film, which features Moore’s trademark humor and “everyman” interviewing style, walks the line between praise and criticism for American culture and how other countries might be treating their citizens better than America treats its citizens. The issues covered include education, employee benefits, women’s equality, prison systems, government bureaucracy, drugs, health care and awareness of other cultures. “Where to Invade Next” had its U.S. premiere at the 2015 New York Film Festival, where Moore (who is an unapologetic liberal) sat down for this Q&A at a press conference.
Where did you get the idea for “Where to Invade Next”?
I was 19, and I dropped out of college. I got a Eurail pass and a hostel card and spent a couple of months going around Europe. I was in Sweden and broke my toe. Someone sent me to a clinic. I don’t know where it was. There’s not much you can do with a broken toe.
They did what they could. I went to pay the bill, and there was no bill. I didn’t understand it. Seriously, I had never heard of such a thing, so they explained. All through Europe, I kept running into things like that and I was thinking, “That’s such a good idea! Why don’t we do that?” And that’s where it started.
You’ve probably heard lots of excuses for why America can’t do a lot of things that other countries do, right?
Yeah, I hear that a lot. I grew tired of listening to that. Lots of things have to happen, obviously. An anti-apartheid movement starts. People start divesting from Africa. There’s a multi-decade campaign. And then, one day it tips. And then one day, the man who is president of South Africa gets to wake up one day and say, “F*ck this sh*t! Let [Nelson Mandela] out.”
Sometimes it’s that. And sometimes it’s a bunch of people showing up and chiseling on the [Berlin] Wall. And obviously, on the other side of the wall, there was a collapse going on. Like I said in the movie, 41 states put it in their constitution or laws that it was illegal to marry people of the same gender. Massachusetts was the first to make it legal for a very long time. And it tips because people do things.
And those who are so-called “in charge,” they know to get out of the way, usually. Sometimes they don’t, and a larger rebellion takes place. I am, as I said in the film, an optimist. I’m not a cynic. I don’t think it’s all f*cked. I feel like that sometimes. It’s the truth. The shooting in Oregon. What do we do about that?
What did you think about Barack Obama’s response to the shooting in Oregon?
It was awesome. He inches his way toward that place where he needs to go. I hope he goes there. He’s got a year left.
For more info: “Where to Invade Next” website