Michael Moore Finishes Interrupted 2003 Oscar Speech at Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards

At the third annual event honoring documentary filmmakers, Moore took the opportunity to read the remainder of his acceptance speech for ‘Bowling for Columbine,’ which he didn’t have the chance to complete at the time because he was pulled offstage.

Michael Moore had some unfinished business to attend to. At the third annual Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards, where he received the lifetime achievement award, the filmmaker took the opportunity to read the rest of his acceptance speech from his 2003 Bowling for Columbine Oscar win, during which he was famously booed and rushed offstage.

“If you wouldn’t mind, I’ve never been able publicly to give the rest of the speech,” Moore said to applause at BRIC in Brooklyn on Saturday night. He went on to recall how he had invited all of his fellow documentary nominees onstage with him and deatile the moments of the speech up until he was dragged off. Here is what Moore was going to say next: 

“So before I close — see, I was closing — I want to say a few words about nonfiction and how to use it as a cure for the many lies we are being told and as a nonviolent weapon of revolution and change. I have read over the years that my first movie Roger and Me kicked open the doors for documentary films — [it was] the first documentary to be widely distributed to shopping mall cinemas and multiplexes of America. The Academy, though, has not let me in as a member for 13 long years, not until just last month. I had heard all the reasons why. Roger and Me, it’s not a documentary. Roger and Me, documentaries are not supposed to be entertainment. You’re using your frivolous humor and it lessens the seriousness and the impact of what you’re trying to say, et cetera, et cetera. Those of us from the now-dead factory towns of the Rust Belt, who, like me, have just a high school education, we from the working class immediately know the class-based tone of those who speak to us, those who went to the finer schools or even any school at all. I encourage anyone watching at home tonight in the Gary, Indianas of America, in the Camden, New Jerseys, in the San Ysidros, in the East St. Louises and yes, the Flints and Detroits and the Pontiacs and the Dearborns, to pick up a camera and fight the power, make your voice heard and stop this senseless war. Thank you and good night.”

Robert De Niro presented Moore with the award on Saturday night, though he remarked that he would make his time at the podium brief to allow for Moore’s famous loquaciousness. “My latest public performance on [Donald] Trump? About 30 seconds,” De Niro said, referring to his outburst at the Tony Awards in June. 

After completing his speech, Moore went on to liken the post-9/11 America to the current divisiveness in the country. “Fifteen years later, now, tonight, we are not only still at war, but we have a president who has declared war on our democracy and war on us,” Moore said. “Keep picking up those cameras, everyone here in this room, because the people gathered here tonight you may be America’s last line of defense and hopefully the first line of rebuilding this country that he is currently destroying.”

Before the event, when asked about the current headlines about attorney general Jeff Sessions’ firing, Moore remarked that American citizens are going to take to the streets. 

“Well, we have to make sure that the Mueller investigation is not impeded. And I think we’re going to see people out in the streets, whether it’s every week or every day," he said. "People in this country will not tolerate the end of the investigation until it’s actually finished. There’s going to be an uprising, nonviolently, of American citizens if they try to do this.”

On another political note, the documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, RBG, won for best political documentary, and directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen took the opportunity to share a health update from the podium. (The Supreme Court justice broke two ribs in a recent fall.) “We know that she’s out of the hospital and we can report that she’s feeling better and eating voraciously,” Cohen said. 

Rashida Jones won best music documentary honors for Quincy, the film about her father, music legend Quincy Jones, that she co-directed with Alan Hicks for Netflix. “My father is pretty well documented as a figure in the world, but I always felt like whoever documented him was missing a piece that I have a very lucky access point to, which is his personal life as a human being which is very much related to his success,” Rashida told The Hollywood Reporter. “And I thought it was important, especially now when there’s not as much emphasis on apprenticeship and skill and working your way up in whatever industry you’re in, to show that he became who he was because of a really magical mix of hard work, talent, ability and sheer will.” 

The big winners of the evening were the Mr. Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which took home the prize for best documentary, and Free Solo, a film about climber Alex Honnold’s free solo climb up El Capitan, which won for best sports documentary, as well as best innovative documentary and best cinematography. 

Upon accepting the best documentary award, producer-director Morgan Neville stressed the importance of coming together in difficult times. 

“We live in uncivil times. There’s no better advocate for kindness, civility and neighborliness than Fred Rogers,” he told THR. “We tend to think of those things as quaint and outdated, but I think we do so at our own peril. He is this rare voice for reason at a time when everyone’s gone insane. How do we actually remind ourselves of what we have in common?”