“Fahrenheit 9/11” turned up the heat on the Bush administration this week as Americans packed movie houses, hungry for information to help them understand the terrible path down which this president has led our country.

“It’s sold out in Republican strongholds all over the country,” said Michael Moore, the producer-director of the film.

Moore reported that in Fayetteville, N.C., home of Fort Bragg, the theater sold out on opening weekend.

In Milwaukee, Wis., at the Oriental Landmark, lines snaked around the block A voter registration table was set up in the lobby. Moviegoer Bob Shuter said that the film “should be shown in every high school in America.”

“Fahrenheit 9/11” was limited to less than 1,000 movie houses in its first weekend of release after a campaign by right-wing forces to prevent its distribution and to intimidate theater owners. The campaign appeared to have backfired as most theaters sold out all showings the entire weekend.

“Clearly something has happened here that no one expected,” said Moore.

The movie is a documentary that the American people themselves are a part of. It follows the dark history of the Bush administration, hatched from the rotten egg of a stolen election. It shines a light on the dark corners of the Bush family’s brazen disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of African American voters in Florida, the Bushes’ early – and oily – alliance with the ruling Saudi families, including the Bin Ladens, and the unspeakable toll on America’s working-class families.

“I’m wondering why we didn’t see these things on the news when they happened,” a viewer in Chicago asked.

“There was a lot of information I had never heard before,” Jose Monche told the World after watching the 10:30 p.m. showing on opening night at the giant Bronx AMC complex behind the Bay Plaza mall. Monche watched the movie with his wife Debra and 15-year-old son Julio.

Julio said he loved how Moore put all the facts together. “There was no reason to go to war.”

Debra Monche said she hasn’t voted since moving to the state several years ago. Her husband, smiling, said, “Now I’m going to drag her” to register to vote. “He won’t have to drag me,” she said.

The author can be reached at rwood@pww.org. Corina Marshall and Gary Grass contributed to this story.
(See related story below)

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Fahrenheit hot enough to cook president’s goose

CHICAGO – Some 55,000 people squeezed into our living room Monday night for a chat with Fahrenheit 9/11 producer Michael Moore. Twenty-five sat on the sofa and folding chairs. The other 54,975, including Moore, joined us on the speakerphone from 4,600 other house parties. Moveon.org did the inviting, directing to my address people in nearby ZIP codes who wanted to talk about the movie.

Adopt five people who don’t normally vote, Moore told us by speakerphone, to make sure they get to the polls. Make arrangements now to take off Election Day. Every resident of the U.S. lives within driving distance of one of the “battleground states,” he said, so set aside an autumn weekend to pack up the family and be in one of them, manning phone banks and precinct walking.

MoveOn organizers asked for hosts for phone bank parties July 11. Participants will bring cell phones and make calls to unregistered residents of battleground states. Through feedback from computer hookups at the parties, organizers were able to report instantly that nearly 3,000 people had volunteered to host phone bank parties, and over 25,000 had pledged to show up with their phones on the 11th.

After the conference call the voices of our neighbors, previously strangers, filled the living room to talk about the movie:

“No one wanted to leave the theater. We needed to talk,” one said.

“I want to know why none of this was in the press,” another asked.
Other comments went like this: “My favorite part was when they asked the congressman to sign up his kids for the military. That man looked at Michael like he was crazy.”

“My boyfriend went over there in March. A couple of weeks ago they bombed his PX. Three were killed and 20 more were injured. Two more have died. I can’t believe that’s why he’s there! I e-mailed him when I got home from the movie.”

If this no-hassle, just-in-time organizing is the wave of the future, count me in. Attendees invited themselves, brought refreshments, and helped clean up. All we did was dust off the welcome mat and put on the coffee. Try it. Go to MoveOn.org to sign up for the July 11 phone banks.

– Roberta Wood