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Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine hit theaters nearly 15 years ago, but, as mass shootings like the one at the Colorado high school have become relatively common in the U.S., the film continues to be timely.
The filmmaker, who won the best documentary Oscar for his look into the roots of gun violence in America, said as much before a Tribeca Film Festival screening on Thursday, which marked the 18th anniversary of the Columbine incident.
“We could release this film again this Friday, and it, sadly, would probably be every bit as relevant,” he said.
After the screening, Moore joined acclaimed documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker for a Q&A about the film.
Moore said he still sees the film’s central thesis about fear playing out on the evening news, especially in Donald Trump’s rise to power.
“I think the equation is simple,” he explained. “It’s the American equation. Dumb down the population and make them ignorant and stupid. Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to hate. Trump knew that part of the equation really well. And hate leads to violence.”
Furthermore, he urged people not to give in to fear when, not if, the next terrorist attack occurs in the U.S.
“We’re hours, months, weeks away from our own Reichstag fire,” said the filmmaker. “When that happens, I really encourage people to not get on board the fear train, the terrorist train, the war train, whatever Trump will do. There will more than likely be some kind of terrorist act in this country. I fear that he will use that to such an awful extent. We have to fight that when it happens and not be afraid to fight it.”
Trump and the actions taken by his administration were frequent topics during the discussion, with Pennebaker sharing his own thoughts on the president.
“Trump is like somebody you’ve given a Ferrari to and he can’t drive, and he drives out of your life with it, and that’s the last you see of him” said Pennebaker.
Moore quickly added: “With your child in the front seat.”
Moore has been a consistent and outspoken critic of Trump, both as a presidential candidate and president. Since Trump won the election, Moore has urged acts of resistance, even going so far as to publish a calendar of things people could do to protest the current regime.
The ardent Bernie Sanders supporter, who voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election, made headlines over the summer for predicting that Trump would win — a forecast that turned out to be accurate, much to his chagrin.
But in light of his prophetic prediction about the election, one audience member asked Moore if he knew when Trump would be impeached.
“I would say some time in the middle of his second term,” Moore said as the audience groaned. Sounding amused, Moore pointed out that the audience on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, where he first voiced his theory that Trump was likely to win the 2016 election, responded the same way.
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