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Filmmaker Michael Moore made a surprise visit to West Virginia this weekend for a screening at an international film festival. Moore was in the Kanawha Valley on Saturday and Sunday and spoke to crowds at the West Virginia International Film Festival, which was showing his latest film Where To Invade Next at the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston.
Moore’s visit happened mostly by chance, as he was scheduled to be out of the country for his 62nd birthday to appear at the screening of the film in Italy. However, his trip to Italy was canceled last minute.
“Everybody had already took off work and we had flights scheduled to New York for my family,” Moore said to the crowd at the LaBelle before the Sunday showing.
“We were going to make this a big birthday trip to Rome and we said well let’s go someplace else already here. Like what would be the equivalent of Rome? And I said ‘how about a city built on a lot of hills,’” he joked.
Known for being a staunch liberal and highly progressive, Moore’s films Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 have focused on his criticisms of American politics and culture. Where To Invade Next takes a satirical look at American policies on issues such as education, women’s and workers’ rights–as he travels the world “invading” other countries with hopes to bring idealism back home.
Moore said his family and friends stared looking around for things to do in the Charleston area when they arrived over the weekend. That’s when they pulled a birthday surprise on him by getting tickets to the showing of Where To Invade Next at the West Virginia International Film Festival.
“I got here, and I’ll tell you–[Saturday] was the birthday–and to keep me from either seeing any posters or whatever they took me out to the New River Gorge, which was awesome. And then we came here and there was a Red Carpet and everything. Just like Rome!” Moore panned to the crowd, referencing the East End bar.
Moore, a native of Flint, Michigan, also fielded a few questions from the audience after Sunday’s screening.
When asked how the public should respond to water contaminations like the ongoing situation in Flint and the January 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, Moore called for “mass, non-violent, civil disobedience.”
At Sunday’s screening, Moore was presented with a variety of gifts, including a birthday cake and pepperoni rolls. Upon receiving them he said, “I could live here, you know? I look normal here.”