Academy Award-winning producer Gerald R. Molen, who's worked on iconic films like "Rain Main," "Schindler's List" and "Jurassic Park," is demanding that the outspoken Michael Moore be removed from the documentary branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Board of Governors due to his perceived liberal bias.
Molen produced the 2012 documentary "2016: Obama's America," a movie that was largely eviscerated by critics. He blames Moore and two other documentary-branch members of the Board of Governors, Rob Epstein ("The Times of Harvey Milk," "The Celluloid Closet") and Michael Apted ("Coal Miner's Daughter," "The World Is Not Enough"), for prompting what Molen sees as the film's Oscar snub due to their political partisanship.
"Obama's America" raked in more than $33 million at the box office, a lofty sum for a nonfiction film that isn't about penguins or Justin Bieber. ("2016" is the fourth highest-grossing doc of all time after Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," "March of the Penguins" and "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.")
The filmmaker is concerned that his next documentary, "America," which he is co-producing with the same team that made "2016," will also go ignored for the same reasons -- even though the Academy just loosened its rules surrounding Best Documentary Feature voting so that more members would be able to mark their ballots in the category. The new regulations, championed by Moore himself, make it less plausible for a small clique of Academy voters to determine the nominees.
Molen writes the following about Moore in his letter to the Academy and the three filmmakers, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter:
“While Mr. Moore is a distinguished filmmaker, he holds a strong partisan view representing what Gallup tells us is only 21 percent of the population. Even if he were able to keep his personal philosophy out of the equation, you can certainly understand why the larger American constituency (pegged at 40 percent) would question the exclusion of a well-made and popular film that fails to reflect his views. Even if only in perception, this assumed bias will serve [in my opinion] only to injure the Academy.”
The Academy responded with its own letter shortly thereafter, writing:
"We’ve discussed your letter and the concerns you raise. First of all, I want to assure you that '2016: Obama’s America' was treated the same as all the other 125 films that were submitted in the Feature Documentary category for the most recent Academy Awards. Your film definitely received consideration and it was not ignored. It merely didn’t get the votes it needed to move onto the short list.
It’s up to each one of the 172 members of the Documentary branch to evaluate the entries and make their own, independent judgments about which ones reflect the strongest achievements of the year. Inevitably, every year there are strong films that do not advance to the short list and a nomination.
While box office success is most assuredly an important measure of a film’s success in our industry, in my opinion it shouldn’t factor into our thinking as individual Academy members when we evaluate films for Oscar consideration."
"2016: Obama's America" tells the story of President Barack Obama's past as filtered through the lens of conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza, with the film's larger thesis indicating that Obama wants to reduce the United States' influence in an effort to tame Western domination. The movie was shut out at the Oscars in favor of "The Invisible War," "How to Survive a Plague," "The Gatekeepers," "5 Broken Cameras" and "Searching for Sugar Man," the latter of which won.
For more, click over to The Hollywood Reporter.