CANNES, France Despite being in trouble with the U.S. authorities, Michael Moore believes Americans will support his latest movie which takes a swipe at the country's health care system.
Movie critics heaped praise on "SiCKO", which premiered out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend and has dominated the early festival buzz.
Moore, who won the Palme d'Or in Cannes for his anti-Bush polemic "Fahrenheit 9/11", has divided domestic audiences with biting though always humorous critiques of U.S. policies after the 9/11 attacks and its gun laws.
This time, the 53-year-old director thinks things will be different.
"I do believe that when we show this in the United States that the American public is going to react very strongly," the outspoken director told Reuters in an interview on Sunday.
"So many Americans have been hurt by our health care system and I'm very confident that people will take to this movie," he said on a balcony looking out over the Cannes waterfront.
Moore will do well to match the success of "Fahrenheit 9/11", the most successful U.S. documentary of all time with worldwide ticket sales of $222 million, according to movie tracking site www.boxofficemojo.com.
The war in Iraq was an issue that drew viewers worldwide. Some wonder if an analysis of the U.S. health care system will have the same appeal.
Moore is quick to stress that "SiCKO" was more about the U.S. government and society at large than it was about health.
"It's funny to hear everybody talk about it being a movie about healthcare. I only use healthcare as the vehicle through which to explore a much larger issue. This is a film about the American soul, who we are as a people.
"Our attitude is, if you are falling through the cracks, 'See you! Good luck!'," he added, waving.
"I don't want to live in a country like that, and I'm not leaving the country I'm in so the country has to change and that's what the movie's about."
Moore said he was angered by the U.S. investigation into an unauthorised trip to Cuba he made as part of "SiCKO".
The director gathered volunteers who helped in the 9/11 rescue effort and were suffering health problems as a result but had no support or insurance. He took them to Cuba, where they were treated effectively and virtually for free.
Moore was "bothered" by how journalists wrote that the investigation had generated free publicity for "SiCKO".
"I'm thinking, hey, there's a human being involved here. I'm the one under investigation, I'm the one facing criminal and civil penalties for doing nothing other than exercising my constitutional rights to make a movie.
"I'm like, wait a minute, this is the United States of America. And so it's not funny to me ... How much will I end up having to spend on lawyers? $50,000? $100,000?"
Moore defended his methods in "SiCKO", where he paints a rosy picture of healthcare in France, Britain and Cuba as opposed to a U.S. system driven purely by greed.
"I'm an American looking at the British system through American eyes," he said. "It doesn't mean it doesn't have flaws or problems, but it's a hell of a lot better than what we have."
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