Demand for ‘Fahrenheit’ bow grows

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HONG KONG — Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” is finally unspooling here, but not without some hiccups.

Distrib Panasia Films, a subsidiary of Golden Harvest, is still awaiting materials and documents, but hopes to release the controversial documentary in late September on seven screens across the territory.

The film is unspooling late, admits Regent Lai, who handles distribution for Panasia, but it originally wasn’t slated to be released at all in Hong Kong because the territory tends to be apolitical. However, recent political activity here prompted more interest in the film, Lai says.

Prior to an announcement of a pending theatrical release, the first word of a screening came courtesy of Democrats Abroad Hong Kong. The group planned to show the film at no charge for its members and the public at a local bar in mid-August.

Their goal was to motivate expat Americans to register to vote before the coming presidential elections.

“We took Michael Moore at his word to download it and show it,” a Democrats Abroad spokesman says.

When Panasia heard of the screening, “We were very shocked,” Lai says. At that time, Panasia had already received word it would be distributing the pic.

“We had no intention to forbid (Democrats Abroad) from doing it, but warned them that it would be against Hong Kong law if it was a public screening,” says Ching Suet-ching, Panasia publicity manager.

United Intl. Pictures is arranging for Panasia to distribute the film, but has not yet finalized the licensing agreement.

Once Democrats Abroad was told the film had a distributor, the group decided not to show the film. “We won’t do anything that’s not legal,” the spokesman says, but adds the late release of the film “will minimize the effect.”

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