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Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

'Fahrenheit 9/11' opens to big, enthusiastic crowds


Staff writer

OSAKA -- "Fahrenheit 9/11," American film director Michael Moore's savage attack on the policies of President George W. Bush, opened nationwide Saturday to long lines and enthusiastic crowds.

The film, which won the Best Picture award at this year's Cannes Film Festival, began playing nationwide at more than 160 cinemas after premiering in Tokyo last weekend.

In Osaka, crowds began lining up early Saturday morning for the first showing. At the Umeda Garden Cinema, the lines were long. Some of those who saw the film said afterward that they would likely see it again.

"After hearing everything about this film, good and bad, I'm glad it's finally here. I think this is a film that all Japanese need to see, because it shows just how much Bush has lied. It's a film I intend to see again," said Reiji Taniguchi, a student at an Osaka-area university, after standing in line since about 7 a.m.

In the U.S., "Fahrenheit 9/11" has made more than $115 million in sales since opening in late June. Earlier this month, Moore announced it would be available on DVD in October, just before the presidential election. Several people standing in lines outside theaters Saturday expressed hope that a Japanese version will be available soon afterward.

The film's opening here is being used by Democrats Abroad Japan as an opportunity to sign up Americans who have not yet registered to vote in the November election.

The organization's Kansai chapter conducted a voter registration drive at screenings Saturday evening, with members saying they hope Moore's film will convince undecided voters to choose Democratic challenger John Kerry.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" has not been without its critics, especially from America's rightwingers, who challenge Moore's conclusions, especially regarding his allegations of close cooperation between the Bush family and the Saudis. Numerous Web sites devoted to debunking Moore's claims have popped up.

Some Japanese newspapers that are openly pro-Bush have recently published these claims.



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