Filmgoers from across Texas watched the documentary on a giant inflatable movie screen on Wednesday.
They booed and cheered as Moore’s record-setting anti-war film satirically recounted Bush’s controversial 2000 election and lambasted the president’s response to the11 September 2001 attacks and his reasons for going to war in Iraq.
Few local filmgoers
Moore had pledged to come to the screening and even invited Bush to attend. But the bespectacled director abruptly pulled out on Wednesday, telling organisers he wanted his movie, not his differences with the Republican president, to be the evening’s subject.
“But we’re all here tonight,” said John Wolf, leader of a Texas network of peace activists that organised the screening and asked for an $8 donation as admission to benefit a local activist centre called the “Crawford Peace House.”
Half a mile (1km) away, scores of Bush supporters gathered for a rally to show their support for the president. Some were business owners from the Lone Star Parkway, Crawford’s main street, which features several presidential souvenir shops.
Bush is vacationing this week at his 1600-acre (650- hectare) ranch during the Democratic National Convention in Boston that nominated John Kerry on Wednesday for president.
Moore’s (R) film has earned more
Moore has been in Boston during the convention where he has attracted enormous media coverage.
Some at the screening booed and catcalled when Moore appeared in the film with his signature baseball hat and blue jeans.
Organisers said they wanted to bring “Fahrenheit 9/11” to Crawford, located about 7 miles (11km) from Bush’s Prairie Chapel ranch, so local people would have the chance to see it.
But only a handful of moviegoers from the tiny hamlet of Crawford were in attendance. There appeared to be twice as many foreign exchange students from Belgium as locals.
The pro-Bush rally in Crawford, a traditionally Democratic town with a population of 705, also attracted many from outlying areas, including ranchers.
“There aren’t many people in Crawford. So whenever you have a large crowd, most people will be from someplace else,” said Crawford police chief Donnie Tidmore.
The two camps confronted each other briefly near the entrance to the outdoor theatre near the Crawford High School football field, where a middle-aged Moore supporter encountered several young anti-Moore protesters holding a cloth sign that read: “Fahrenheit 9/11: Moore Liberal BS”
“Name the lies in Michael Moore’s film. None of you can,” the Moore supporter, Dallas musician Rick Charles, scolded the
“Fahrenheit 9/11,” which has earned more than $100 million in just over a month set to become the most successful documentary ever, has been seen by more than 6 million people.
Moore has said he hopes the film will help oust the president from office in the Nov 2 election.
The film opened at a nearby cinema in Waco, Texas, last Friday.