Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This Divided State

Two weeks before the 2004 election, conservative Utah Valley State College booked the very liberal, very controversial filmmaker Michael Moore, throwing Utah into a heated vitriolic "red vs blue" battle.

This Divided State is a documentary that chronicles the controversy, a microcosm of the divided political ideologies within America centered around freedom of speech, as outraged community members and religious leaders vocally opposed his appearance.

Here's a synopsis from This Divided State's website:

The student body representatives who had invited Michael Moore soon were inundated with hate mail, death threats, and claims that they had committed "treason." Other students who supported Moore's right to speak were labeled "liberal," "anti-Mormon," or just simply "evil." Spearheading the anti-Moore campaign was Kay Anderson, local millionaire, Sunday School teacher and self-appointed community spokesperson. Mr. Anderson made local headlines when he attempted to bribe the college administration, during a public forum, with a personal $25,000 check in order to cancel Michael Moore's speech.

Attempting to calm outrage, the college invited FOX News pundit Sean Hannity to speak a few days before Moore. But this was to no avail. The controversy continued to explode into a full-blown war of political and religious differences and, within days, lawsuits were filed, resignations occurred, and friendships were torn apart.

And thus continued the infamous "Moore War." Would conservative activists prevent Michael Moore from speaking? Would liberal Utahns win their fight for freedom of speech?
The answer lies somewhere within "This Divided State

In an interesting bit of irony, according to director Steven Greenstreet, "The students who invited Moore were actually Mormon Republican Bush supporters." It is they, in the end, who remained the strongest supporters of Moore's right to speak.

In discussing the making of This Divided State, Steven offers up a powerful insight that resonates well beyond the state of Utah; "the monster that was created from the Moore controversy lingers even still in Utah. There is a sense of division, even deeper than before, and no one speaks of healing or unity"

This Divided State is now available on DVD. Check out the website for reviews, clips, and select live screening dates. But more importantly, check out the film!

Engaging, fast paced, riveting, powerful, informative, it's a masterpiece of filmmaking from Steven Greenstreet, and his team at Minority Films. This is documentary filmmaking at it's absolute best, and may very well turn out to be the definitive political film that cuts to the heart of this divided nation.


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