June 11, 2007–The Weinstein Co. and Michael Moore convened a news conference with attorney David Boies to issue a formal response to what they called a Bush Administration smear campaign. “This is not about Cuba and it is not about whether you like Castro or not,” Boies said, out of his Midtown Manhattan law firm. “This is about freedom of the press and an attempt to discriminate against Michael Moore's journalism.”
Boies released a copy of a letter sent Monday to the Treasury Department that affirmed Moore's status as a journalist and asked for “information regarding the person or persons who participated in the decision” to threaten actions against the filmmaker.
About a week before the film's premiere out of competition in Cannes, the Treasury Dept. sent a letter that raised questions about possible violations of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Possible penalties could include seizure of the film, fines or jail time.
At the root of the dispute is a 15-minute segment in the docu showing Moore escorting 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba in order to illustrate the caliber of medical care available there compared to in the U.S., where most of their requests for coverage had been denied.
Moore said he is “concerned about what the Bush Administration might do over the next couple of weeks. I would have thought they would have waited until long after the film had been released to go after me.”
Harvey Weinstein said “the whole thing baffled me,” and insisted he had told the Administration that they could “turn off the spigot and we won't get this kind of publicity but they won't turn it off.”
“Sicko” will bow theatrically June 29. Released in the U.S. by Lionsgate, it will face competition from “Ratatouille” and the latest “Die Hard” installment. The print run has not been set but could easily be double the 868 runs of Moore's “Fahrenheit 9/11.