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Entertainment behind the scenes

For Michael Moore and Ken Loach revolution begins at film festival

By Reuters Staff
September 18, 2010


By Jeffrey Hodgson

No one can accuse left-wing filmmakers Michael Moore and Ken Loach of abandoning their ideals as they joined the glitz and glamour of the Toronto International Film Festival, where Loach was promoting his Iraq war drama “Route Irish”.

Moore was briefly in town to interview Loach before an audience of fans. But even before the interview started,  the “Fahrenheit 9/11″ director  lamented the amount of corporate sponsorship at the festival. His event, sponsored by BlackBerry, took place in the festival’s snazzy new headquarters, which is sponsored by Canadian phone company Bell.

He said Loach asked him beforehand: ”Is there anything left that hasn’t been branded?”

routeirish_02The conversation quickly turned to war and the two directors backed the idea of Canada offering asylum to U.S. soldiers who have fled there to avoid service in Iraq or Afghanistan. They compared today’s situation with the Vietnam war, when thousands of draft dodgers fled to Canada.

“This country was so generous to those of my generation who did not want to kill Vietnamese,” Moore said. “It is absolutely shameful how Canada has behaved toward those who have resisted this war. It’s not the Canada that we used to know.”

They also briefly shared the stage with a labor advocate who urged the festival to hire a unionized cleaning company for their new building. Loach’s 2000 film “Bread and Roses” was about a campaign to unionize cleaning workers in California.

The pair discussed pursuing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and much of the Bush administration as war criminals, and making movie theaters community owned.

Based on nodding heads, cheers and applause, the audience seemed largely sympathetic.

(Caption: (Top) In this file photo, Director Ken Loach attends news conference for the film Route Irish in competition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 21, 2010. Nineteen films are competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or which will be awarded on May 23.   REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (Bottom) A still photo from the film “Route Irish”. REUTERS/TIFF)

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