Jan. 10, 2001 shootings had impact on film
Michael Moore’s new documentary, “Bowling for Columbine,” will hit home with Nevada County residents.
Filmmaker and satirist Moore shared the heartache area residents experienced during the Jan. 10, 2001, shooting spree at the Nevada County Behavioral Health clinic and Lyon’s restaurant.
Moore was in a meeting about the documentary (coincidentally, about this country’s gun culture) in his New York City office when his sister, Anne Moore, called from Nevada County. She asked him to activate the cell phone he had given her for Christmas.
Anne Moore’s daughter’s school was locked down because “a man was running around shooting children,” the filmmaker recalled, and she needed to reach her husband, who was on his way to check on the girl.
“The whole incident in Nevada City had a profound impact on us,” said Roger Moore.
“So I’m calling the phone company, feeling that sense of terror and panic from 3,000 miles away on West 57th Street in New York,” Moore said Tuesday from New York. “When it was all over, we learned about the people killed and wounded, and that a woman became paralyzed after jumping out a window. A couple of days later, I read the obituary of Laura (Wilcox) and the story in The Union.”
The obituary weighed heavily on Moore.
“I had spoken at Laura’s college the year prior. I remember this girl coming up to me saying she was from Nevada City, and I’m thinking this is the girl I spoke to,” Moore said. “She was very active in the campus and working for peace and to help the poor … I have a daughter a year older. You think, ‘There but for the grace of God.'”
Moore was so shaken by the obituary that he posted it on his door so he and his staff could renew their commitment “to make a great film in her honor and the others who have gone before their time because of senseless violence.”
He was already committed to exposing U.S. firearms abuse; half of his scathing “Bowling for Columbine” documentary had been completed.
It’s been 21 months since Moore first read Wilcox’s obituary
“You read about the things she accomplished in a short life and her concerns for others and the environment – this is the kind of kid who would have gone on to make the world better, maybe she would have become president,” he said.
“It’s not only a personal loss to the Wilcoxes and their friends and families, we all lost, we all suffered, we all got brought down a notch because she left the world.”
Wilcox is one of three victims to whom the film is dedicated. The others are the son of Moore’s close friends, Herb Cleaves Jr., who was gunned down in Flint, Mich.; and John Alberts, Moore’s sound mixer who killed himself with a gun in January 2001.
“I’m sick and tired; seven or eight children under 18 a day are shot in the U.S.,” said Moore, who began “Bowling for Columbine” in August 1999.
“Bowling for Columbine” includes footage from the shooting spree at the Colorado high school, a conversation with National Rifle Association president and actor Charlton Heston and a summer 2001 interview with a customer at the annual gun show at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Moore asked the man who he was afraid of and why he had to buy guns.
Moore hopes the film, which opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles, will awaken viewers to the problem.
“I hope they leave the theater thinking of issues I’m raising, hope people will act as citizens, to start participating in the government they own. Once someone sees the film, they’re do the right thing, which is to work to end gun violence and the culture of violence we live in this country.”
“Bowling for Columbine” was the first documentary since 1956 accepted to compete at the Cannes Film Festival; the film won a special 55th anniversary prize at the 2002 festival.
“Oh my God, it was incredible at Cannes,” Moore said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t submit it; I sent a friend a tape for a midnight screening near the festival. I got a phone call (from the festival) saying we’d like to break the rules.”
— Moore will attend a screening Saturday in Nevada City. He will conduct a question-and-answer session immediately afterwards. All proceeds will go to the Laura Wilcox Scholarship Fund and the Peace Center of Nevada County. United Artists is picking up the expenses for his visit. Nevada Theatre Film Series and community radio station KVMR are benefit underwriters.
KNOW & GO
WHAT: “Bowling for Columbine” benefit screening
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday; doors open at 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad St., Nevada City
ADMISSION: $25. Tickets at BriarPatch, The Book Seller and Nevada City Postal Co.
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