Manufacturing Dissent

Manufacturing Dissent DVD cover

The filmmaker who turned political documentaries into blockbusters comes under scrutiny in *Manufacturing Dissent*. Oversized Michael Moore is portrayed as ‘a bit megalomaniacal at times, with a paranoid tinge’.

Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk, both progressive liberals, highlight how Moore manipulated scenes in his _Roger and Me_ and _Bowling for Columbine_ movies for more dramatic impact. By the second half of the film the endless nit-picking from some of the interviewees becomes petty. Moore was mentally unhinged because he didn't agree with a chat-show host that his first dramatic movie ‘wasn’t very good’. Moore didn’t pay his bills. He upset an old man. He got rich. He got famous and so on.

The filmmakers even score an own goal by using techniques for which they criticize Moore – altering chronological details, promoting themselves and gate-crashing events. The difference being, of course, that a fat campaigner in a baseball cap trying to bring down a President is much more entertaining than two middle-class liberals seeking 'truth'.

*Manufacturing Dissent* does provoke questions about why political documentaries are produced. To educate the masses, produce a particular social change or to promote a filmmaker’s career? These are questions well worth exploring but sadly none are answered here. The irony seems to be lost on the filmmakers that by producing the largest-grossing documentaries of all time, Moore has paved the way for *Manufacturing Dissent* to be even considered by a distributor.

The Video Activist Handbook

The Video Activist Handbook

Video activism is spreading fast and this book is invaluable both to the novice and the experienced user. It opens by chronicling the diverse use of camcorders by activists everywhere — be they Brazilian trade unionists, Tibetan dissidents or British eco-warriors. Technical guidance alternates with personal accounts from video-makers on the frontline, such as those at the WTO summit in Seattle. Harding explores the increasing potential of the internet as a tool for political change, with step-by-step instructions for encoding video and disseminating images for viewing on computer screens around the world. Nor does he shy away from the thorny issue of when — and when not to — film. Images that are useful for campaigning purposes can also be used to imprison activists.

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