Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Ten Movies That Defined My Decade.

10. Fahrenheit 9/11 (Michael Moore, 2004)

In 2004 I turned 18.
Yes, it meant I could finally vote (and drink and smoke without feeling guilty).
But above all I remember it was about the vote. I have always been very politically minded and even if I'm not an American, I have always followed closely their government's moves. And how can one not when they exert so much influence over the entire world?
So yeah, here I was, with a brand new ID card and the notion that I could make a difference in the world. Presidential elections in my country were still one year away, but I made a personal cause out of endorsing the American Democratic party because well everyone knew George W. Bush was simply no good.
I wore a John Kerry pin to school and was very outspoken about my belief that the Iraq invasion had been a crime upon humanity.
And yes, living outside the States I was seen as a lunatic. It took me a while to understand that people see politics as something that happens when you vote.
Democracy to most is something external that affects them little and is over the morning after a new President has been elected.
Today more than ever I know this to be a lie.
Democracy isn't about who we pick or why we pick them, it's an organism that has to be nurtured almost every day of our lives. Democracy isn't about political parties it's about our values.
Most of the time they're not even about morality (that's way too ample a concept) but about basic humanity.
No other film this decade reminded us more about that than Michael Moore's controversial Palme D'or winner.
Sure Moore has made a mess about his latter choices-he seems to pick issues with the idea to polarize as of late-but back then he was just a man trying to make way for his voice to be heard.
The movie may have not aged well (read my original review here) and the ending is still one of the most heartbreaking to be put in celluloid, but the ideas behind Moore's discourse live now more than ever.
We have the right to be heard, the right to fight for change and the right to be treated with basic human dignity.
Now a citizen of a country living under a military dictatorship I am witness of how easy it is for those in power to trample us, to play with us and to disrespect us.
But as long as we believe in change not all is lost.
As an anecdote regarding the movie I will remember it most of all because of the struggles I went through to see it (read the whole story here).
When it premiered and was opening all over the world, the local board of censorship initially declared it would be banned in my country for being "propaganda".
The government was not only very conservative here, but some of its key members had direct ties to things Moore revealed in his documentary.
I was appalled that a bunch of right wing geezers were trying to restrict my viewing rights, so I looked up online at what countries near me the movie was playing in.
The nearest one was El Salvador and coincidentally my parents had to travel there for work around the time the movie was being exhibited.
I packed my bags, told people at school I was leaving the country to see a movie and rode in a car for almost two days to get to my movie.
Nobody and nothing, not even a repressive, restrictive government has the right to choose for me.
Especially not what movies I see!


CS said...

At first I was a little shocked to see this in the 10 spot. While I enjoyed the film, I did not think it was up there with Moore's others works. Yet after reading your reasons I can see why it had to be there. Looking forward to seeing what else made your list.

Luke said...

Well put, Jose! That's a great story as well. Thanks for sharing it! This movie definitely shaped my love of documentaries. And though he seems to have lost the same touch that made this movie so interesting and strangely great, this one'll always have a place in my book.