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'Bowling for Columbine'
To Screen at UW-Eau Claire

 MAILED:  March 13, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — "Bowling for Columbine" (2002), Michael Moore's Oscar-nominated exploration of the roots of America's predilection for violence, will be presented March 27-30 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Voted the best documentary of all time in an International Documentary Association poll of over 2,000 documentary filmmakers, the film will screen at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in Davies Theatre.

""Bowling for Columbine' is not a film simply about guns or school shootings. That is only the starting point for my two-hour journey into the dark soul of a country that is both victim and master of an enormous amount of violence, both at home and around the world," wrote Moore on the eve of the film's release in October. "[It is] a portrait of our nation at the beginning of the 21st century, a nation that seems hell-bent on killing first and asking questions later. It is a movie about the state-sponsored acts of violence and terrorism against our own poor, and how we have created a culture of fear that is based on the racial dilemma we continue to ignore. And it's a devastating comedy."

"Moore, the jolly populist rabble-rouser, explains that he's a former sharp shooting instructor and a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association," reported film critic Roger Ebert. "No doubt this is true, but Moore has moved on from his early fondness for guns. In ‘Bowling for Columbine,' however, he is not so sure of the answers as in the popular ‘Roger & Me,' a film in which he knew who the bad guys were, and why. Here he asks questions he can't answer, such as why we as a nation seem so afraid, so in need of the reassurance of guns."

The film's unprecedented success is the most recent upturn in a roller-coaster 18-month period for Moore. Scheduled for October 2001 release, his bestselling book, "Stupid White Men," was in publishing limbo for four months after HarperCollins requested that Moore make changes in its content, which was considered too controversial after the events of 9-11. The 50,000 copies printed to date had been warehoused and were headed to the shredder; but the book was released, unchanged, in February 2002 following a letter-writing campaign organized by a group of librarians. A surprise winner of the top prize at the British Book Awards in February, "Stupid White Men" was cited as the bestselling nonfiction hardcover of 2002 by Barnes & Noble and, and on March 9 the book returned to the top position on The New York Times Bestseller List in its 46th consecutive week.

Moore's roller-coaster ride continued with "Bowling for Columbine." On March 31, 2002, the filmmaker was evicted from his office during the final week of editing the documentary, for non-payment of rent.

"The publisher [of ‘Stupid White Men'] claimed they did not have to pay me until the book was ‘published,'" Moore wrote. "So, the book didn't really ‘exist' (and it sat in ‘nonexistence' in that warehouse for another four months). Meanwhile, I had no paycheck."

Two months later, "Bowling for Columbine" was the first documentary to screen in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in almost 50 years. It was given a record-setting 13-minute standing ovation at Cannes, and the 55th Anniversary Special Prize was the first of its many awards. More than 100 film critics named it one of the ten best films of the year; the National Film Board named it Best Documentary of the Year; and on Feb. 24 it received the Cesar Award (the French Oscar) for Best Foreign Film.

The 75th annual Academy Awards will be presented March 23.

"Don't put me on the stage on the Oscar show, on live TV. I think that's a big mistake," Moore told an Aspen, Colorado audience in early March during the HBO-sponsored U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.

"Moore hastened to add he is joking, but the concern is real and justified," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"He's more than a filmmaker," former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart told the Sun-Times reporter covering the event. "He's a journalist, a comedian. He's a provocateur. He's an activist, and to much of corporate America, he's the scariest man alive. ... Most people love him. Some people hate him. But no one can deny the power of Michael Moore's work."

Presented by the International Film Society and the University Activities Commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, the 125-minute film is rated R.

Tickets are $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty and staff, and $1 for UW-Eau Claire students, at the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727.

Michael Moore visited UW-Eau Claire in November 1997 when he was presented on The Forum lecture series.


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
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Updated: March 14, 2003