VENICE, Italy – Michael Moore says his film "Capitalism: A Love Story" is dedicated to "good people ... who've had their lives ruined" by the quest for profit.
After much success at Cannes, Moore premieres the movie Sunday in his first appearance at the Venice Film Festival. It was warmly received at a press showing Saturday evening and won positive reviews. Variety called it one of Moore's "best pics."
"I am personally affected by good people who struggle, who work hard and who've had their lives ruined by decisions that are made by people who do not have their best interest at heart, but who have the best interest of the bottom line, of the company, at heart," Moore told reporters Sunday.
The film features plenty of examples of lives shattered by corporate greed — but also some inspiring tales of workers who have rebelled.
According to Moore, "the revolt you think I am calling for has actually begun. It began Nov. 4," when President Barack Obama was elected.
There is the Chicago glass and window company whose employees barricaded themselves to demand their pay after management laid off all 250 employees when the bank line of credit dried up.
On the side of greed, Moore tells the story of a privately-run juvenile detention center in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, that paid off judges to lock up juvenile offenders. One boy said he had done little more than throw a piece of meat at his mother's boyfriend during a fight at the dinner table, and a teenage girl's offense was making fun of her school's vice principal on a Myspace page.
The film is filled with classic Moore gimmicks, like wrapping crime scene tape around landmark banks and Wall Street institutions. And there is the expected Moore grandstanding as he tries to make citizen arrests of bank CEOs, not getting past the sometimes amused security guards at the main entrance. By now, everyone sees him coming and knows who he is.
Moore said he considered himself a proxy for the "millions of Americans who would like to be placing crime scene tape around Wall Street."
The filmmaker is optimistic that unimagined change can happen, citing the unexpected fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and Nelson Mandela's election as the president of South Africa after 27 years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism.
"There are many things that have happened in the last 20 years that are just utterly surprising, so that I now believe anything can happen. People can revolt in good ways."
Moore said his expose on the health care system, "Sicko," helped trigger "a national debate about why we are the only Western industrialized country that does not have universal health care."
While "Capitalism" has a strong political message, Moore said his main purpose is to entertain with a film that "makes you laugh a little, or cry, or think. I am happy with all those results.
But he acknowledges that his mass appeal allows him to reach even nonbelievers, a luxury enjoyed by few on the left.
"I am going to use that position to try to communicate not just to the church of the left but to the average, everyday American who wants to go see a good movie, and maybe gets something out of it at the same time."
"Capitalism: A Love Story" is competing for the Golden Lion, which will be awarded Sept. 12.