http://blog.moviefone.com/media/2006/1/moore_big.jpgLegally, it's been a good month for documentary filmmakers. As Jennifer wrote last week, the makers of Borat, which is only enough of a doc to feature real people, won a legal battle with the fratboys who claimed they were deceptively coerced into their unflattering appearance in the film. Now, Michael Moore has won in a similar case.

Moore was being sued by Sgt. Peter Damon, who appears in Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 without consent. Moore didn't need his approval, though, because the filmmaker had gotten the footage of the injured vet from NBC. But Damon wasn't as displeased with being recycled into a popular film; he was mostly upset with how he is presented in the doc. He claimed he was inaccurately used and his beliefs were wrongly represented. Apparently his real story can be seen in the rebuttal docs Fahrenhype 9/11and Michael Moore Hates America.

Unfortunately for Damon, the judge in the case threw out his suit, which asked for $35 million from Moore and Miramax (each, I believe). Unfortunately for non-fiction film credibility, too. When I wrote about the suit back in June, I defended Damon, mostly because I support discussion of manipulation in documentary filmmaking. But I didn't mean to imply that I think Moore should be censored or unable to be biased or show what he wants how he wants -- this is the historical, wonderful issue with documentaries. I just think that people need to challenge and discuss non-fiction cinema and how it mustn't always be believed yet should be appreciated. So, I was happy to see Damon sue Moore and am now happy that he lost, because he at least got his argument out there without there being any ramifications to the art and freedom of cinema. As for the docmakers who really think they are doing completely honest, truthful work, they can go on believing that, though they might want to look back on the credibility of some of the most famous documentaries, maybe study a little Soviet cinema, and get over themselves.
categories Cinematical