Moore won't submit ''9/11'' for docu Oscar. He wants Best Picture, not to mention a pre-election TV airing for the film, which would render it ineligible for the documentary prize

By Gary Susman
September 04, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Michael Moore: Charlie Neibergall/AP
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The Oscars are six months away, but here’s one prediction we can make without fear: Michael Moore will not be nominated for a Best Documentary Academy Award for ”Fahrenheit 9/11.” That’s because, in a statement published Monday at his website, he announced he would not submit the film for consideration in that category. He cited several reasons, some selfless, some less so.

For one thing, Moore already has a Best Documentary Oscar, for 2002’s ”Bowling with Columbine.” He said he was happy to step aside and let this year’s other popular documentaries enjoy the spotlight. ”Remove the 800-pound gorilla from that Oscar category and let the five films who get nominated have all the attention they deserve (instead of the focus being on a film that has already had more than its share of attention),” he said, citing such potential Oscar winners as ”Super Size Me,” ”Control Room,” ”The Corporation,” ”Orwell Rolls Over in His Grave,” ”Bush’s Brain,” and the upcoming ”Yes Men.” (Many of these, like ”Fahrenheit,” are openly critical of the Bush administration.)

Not that Moore has suddenly become modest and publicity-shy. There’s also a practical reason for withdrawing his film from consideration for the documentary prize: He’s hoping to negotiate a TV airing of the film before the November election. That would render the film ineligible in the documentary category, which bars movies that have been shown on TV within nine months of their theatrical release. The chances are slim that Moore’s DVD distributor, which is releasing the movie on disc in October, would permit a broadcast around the same time, but Moore says, ”If there is even the remotest of chances that I can get this film seen by a few million more Americans before election day, then that is more important to me than winning another documentary Oscar.”

Besides, he’s not taking ”Fahrenheit” out of Oscar consideration altogether. The film is still eligible in plenty of other categories, including Best Picture. Yes, that’s a stretch — no documentary has ever won the top Oscar before — but ”Fahrenheit” pulled off a similarly unprecedented feat when it won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. If the movie actually has an impact on the election, it would be hard for Oscar voters to ignore.

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