Meeting Michael Moore

It seems like I’m meeting a lot of celebrities these days, but the truth is I’m meeting a lot of just regular folks too because I’m putting myself “out there”.  It’s just that celebrities stand out because – they’re celebrities.  Ever since Tom posted this photo

Michael Moore and Gail Mooney at the Traverse City Film Festival

on Facebook, of me with Michael Moore at the Traverse City Film Festival, I’ve gotten a lot of emails from people asking me about it.

To be honest, I was one of many that Michael had a 5-minute chat with that night at the opening party of the festival.  I won’t tell you exactly what we will talked about, other than to say that I asked him how I could get 15 minutes of his time.  That probably wasn’t the best question to ask him at a large party that he was escorting Susan Sarandon to, but I figured I would do what Michael Moore would have done.

Moore is a polarizing kind of guy – strong in his convictions and people either love him or hate him.  I’m somewhere in the middle, but after reading his book “Here Comes Trouble”; I’ve probably swung more to the “love” end of the spectrum.  His book is about his life – with each chapter telling a story about a particular time and experience. I didn’t really know a lot about Moore and all that he has done, but he is like the Forest Gump of his time. In his book he tells the most amazing stories about himself and the serendipitous situations he has encountered in his lifetime.  It’s extraordinarily funny and I would highly recommend it, regardless of what you think about Moore.

Michael has done a lot for the people of Traverse City, Michigan.  He was co-founder of the Traverse City Film Festival and if you’ve never been – GO.  It’s a festival like no other and it’s in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, in northern Michigan.  Michael was instrumental in restoring the State Theatre that had been vacant for over 40 years.  We were able to rent that state of the art theater last year to show a sneak preview of our film, Opening Our Eyes for only $250.00!  Michael loves films and filmmakers.  He also started a funding campaign to raise money for new seats for a local elementary school’s auditorium.  He had only one condition – that the school would honor Martin Luther King by recognizing his birthday as a national holiday and closing on that day. That was only last year, a time when most schools in our nation had recognized this holiday long ago.

I was a bit surprised to see Michael at the “open” outdoor party that night.  He’s literally a “target” and has had many threats on his life.  At one point in his life, he was guarded by a team of ex Navy Seals because of these threats and the copious amounts of “hate mail” he was getting.   I’m sure that has taken a toll on him personally, yet he stays true to his convictions and continues to speak out.

It’s not easy to stay true to your convictions, especially when it’s counter to the status quo.  I admire people, who are consistent in this way, regardless if I agree with their point of view or not.  After all, we live in a democratic country, and democracy is built on the voice of the people – and that means ALL people.  My biggest fear is losing that right to speak out. Ironically, when the “status quo” feels threatened,  “fear” is used to control the voice of the people and only a few are brave enough to speak out, facing the wrath and conjecture of popular opinion.  Moore is one of these people and whether you agree with him or not – take a moment if you live in America to think about this. It’s because of people like Moore that we are still “free” to speak out.

Sadly we couldn’t stay for the entire festival, but we did get to see the film, “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” – an incredible story of the band Journey and how they found their new lead singer in a most unusual place – The Philippines.  I just found out that this film got the “best audience award”.  Seems fitting for this movie to receive that award – it’s got everything that someone like Michael would love – a great story with a message that anything is possible and to never stop believing.

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