Monday, May 17, 2004

CANNES, France - A documentary savaging President Bush and his decision to invade Iraq premiered yesterday at the Cannes Film Festival, giving its maverick director, Michael Moore, an international platform for landing more blows on his country’s leader.

His movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” was the most sought-after screening at the festival, which has put it in the basket of 19 movies vying for Cannes’ prestigious Palme d’Or.

Although Mr. Moore claims right-wing politicians close to Mr. Bush are trying to keep his film from being screened in the United States before the election, he vowed he would get it out — “have no fear of that,” he said.

The two-hour documentary starts with the uproar created by Mr. Bush’s election four years ago, then moves on to the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon before looking at the invasion of Iraq.

The film is told with Mr. Moore’s folksy narrative and deft juxtaposition of images and music to get his openly left-wing view across with humor and occasional shock.

Although most of the points on which he touches — the failure to prevent the September 11 attacks, claims of Bush family ties to the family of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, American business interests in the Iraq war, the collapse of the U.S. case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and the deaths and disillusionment of American soldiers — have been covered by news organizations, Mr. Moore presents scenes he says provide new insights.

They include what he says is evidence of Bush links to Saudi oil money and the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners (though the fimmaker shows nothing as damning as the photos that recently have come to light).

Other celluloid swings at Mr. Bush scheduled to be screened at Cannes include “Uncovered: The War on Iraq,” a documentary co-presented by Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. ambassador, and “Bush’s Brain,” a documentary about the president’s political adviser Karl Rove.

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