UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Roger & Me (w/ John Pierson in person!)

John Pierson, indie film historian and author of “Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across a Decade of American Independent Cinema,” joins us for a film by the aforementioned “Mike”—Michael Moore’s Roger and Me.

Before Michael Moore had a reputation that outsized any film he could make, he made Roger and Me, a portrait of Flint, Michigan in the 80s, on the brink of what was then imagined to be monumental collapse—the breakdown of the auto industry, on the occasion of massive GM layoffs. Twenty-odd years later, Moore’s doc recalls what was not a contained sharp dip in the economy, but rather the beginning of Flint’s long and slow decline, emblematic of the fall of the middle class and so many American cities.

With his everyman schtick in full swing, Moore leverages performative naiveté in interviewing his subjects, from the Sheriff and the disgruntled families he evicts, to Grosse Pointe’s out of touch plutocrats—a batch of whom memorably claim to be doing their part to revive the economy by hiring unemployed Flint residents to pose as statues at an opulent Gatsby party, unbelievably ignorant of the cinematic symbolism they’re providing—all while on a quest for an elusive interview with the titular Roger, GM CEO Roger Smith. There’s a snide knowingness to Moore’s depiction of Flint’s residents, but his earnestness and sense of injustice saves him from mockery, lending a tender irony to his depiction of Great American Tragedy.

Dir. Michael Moore, 1989, 35mm, 91 min.

Watch the trailer!