When it comes to responding to the politics of filmmaker Michael Moore, Jim Hubbard of Dallas thinks conservatives should put up or shut up. He's putting up by sponsoring the American Film Renaissance Festival.
A new film festival highlights filmmakers with a pro-America message.
The first-ever festival, scheduled Sept. 10-12 in Dallas, will show more than a dozen films, several of which take on the filmmaker behind "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Bowling for Columbine."
Hubbard, a native Arkansan who just finished law school, has worked diligently to acquire "Michael and Me," by radio-turned-TV host Larry Elder, and "Michael Moore Hates America," by Mike Wilson.
The festival will also screen the Showtime movie "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis"—a look at the Sept. 11 tragedy from the administration's point of view—and a documentary about "The Passion of the Christ."
"The AFR Film Festival is the first major forum in the country where conservative filmmakers will be able to present, and filmgoers will be able to view, movies dedicated to celebrating pro-American values, messages and themes," the festival's Web site says.
The Web site's main page also includes a quote from Ronald Reagan's farewell address Jan. 20, 1989.
"The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special," Reagan said, but "for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. "
Hubbard hopes to change that. He had the idea for such a festival about two years ago, and the American Film Renaissance Institute, sponsor of the festival, became incorporated a year ago.
"I had always followed political and cultural messages in film since I was a teenager," Hubbard told EthicsDaily.com. "I started studying the legal and business aspects of film while I was in law school and developed an interest in it."
The festival, which will take place at Dallas' Studio Movie Grill, resulted. Hubbard said about 16 films are locked in, though he may schedule a few more because other material keeps popping up on the radar.
"It's astounding," he said. Hubbard added that he modeled the festival after Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival, which seeks out and give a platform to films ignored by the marketplace.
This year's festival will be light on the seminars and panels, which often populate other festivals, concentrating on giving these films and filmmakers a voice. Hubbard said he hopes to have the final schedule completed in about two weeks.
"Most film festivals," Hubbard said, "the product they show definitely is not friendly toward people with a conservative world view," but "there is a tremendous market for traditionalist values and point of view."
He pointed to the success of "The Passion of the Christ" as an example. The film has grossed roughly $370 million in the United States alone.
Hubbard said Americans need to have the option of seeing "pro-American" films like those from Hollywood's Golden Era, when popular culture wasn't hostile to people of faith and the military.
"We just need a renaissance in American film," he said.
As bothered as Hubbard is by Moore's films, he's more outraged by other Hollywood fare.
With Moore and "Fahrenheit 9/11," he said, "you know what you're getting." He's more disturbed by films that seek to slip in slams on conservatives. He pointed to moments in "Old School," "Chocolat" and "The Italian Job" where a character with traditional values "is made to look like an imbecile."
That isn't to say, however, that Hubbard thinks Moore is a good guy who just got it wrong.
"Anyone who thinks he is championing the little guy is deluded," Hubbard said. Moore isn't even a liberal, according to Hubbard; the filmmaker is a "far left extremist" whose ideas and actions are antithetical to western civilization.
"We believe there are a great number of Democrats who share our cultural outlook," Hubbard said, but Moore is not one of them.
To combat Moore, Hubbard thinks conservatives should eschew boycotts and silencing behaviors. He pointed to MoveAmericaForward.org and its campaign to keep "Fahrenheit 9/11" out of theaters.
"Conservatives are on the wrong track to boycott something when they think of Hollywood as the enemy," he said. "Our biggest criticism is not with liberals. Our biggest criticism is with conservatives."
"Boycotts are for the weak. Get out there and produce your films," Hubbard said, adding that he believes "the better ideas over time will rise to the surface and be implemented"
"And if we can't win in the free market," he concluded, "then we don't deserve to win anyway."
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.