06/25/07 Dawn Morgan
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32 cities across the nation, including Sarasota, got to sneak a peek at Michael Moore's latest film Sicko this past Saturday. WMNF's Dawn Morgan has more.


The Regal Hollywood 20 multiplex in Sarasota offered just one showing of Sicko Saturday evening, and it played to a sold out crowd.

Well-publicized scenes from the film, like Moore's controversial trip to Guantanemo Bay, Cuba were among the appeal of the special screening.

(Viewer1:"We drove all the way from West Palm Beach to see it.

WMNF: What was the biggest surprise?

V1: I really loved the part where he took off for Cuba. We could really empathize. It was a wonderful moment.

WMNF: Did it tell you anything you didn't already know?

V1: "I think a lot of people that knew a lot less than we do will have their eyes opened. And that makes it really exciting.")

(Viewer two: "I think the 9/11 volunteers surprised me, that they couldn't get help. The other stuff did not.

WMNF: Have you had personal experiences?

V2: "With the health care system? I had good medical until I went on Medicare, Medicare is no good.")

One Sarasota small business owner with a wife and toddler said he paid $350 a month for a family policy, which included a $5,000 deductible. Noticeably moved as he exited the theatre, WMNF asked his opinion of the film.

(V3: "Powerful. I'm totally changed. Unbelievable. I'm going to call my mom now. I'm almost in tears.

WMNF: Have you had trouble with health insurance yourself?

V3: "Had to cancel it. It's exactly my life.")

The audience in general was not shy about showing their emotions throughout the screening. Clapping erupted when Moore found medical care in Cuba for a group of 9/11 rescue workers who had been denied coverage in the States. The sound of jaws dropping in disbelief filled the theatre when American ex-patriots in Paris described the depth of care they receive from the French government, including 5 weeks of paid vacation a year, with an additional week for newlyweds, and a government issued nanny to help new mothers with domestic chores like cooking and laundry.

Yet the French can still find dissatisfaction with their government, and when they do, they are not afraid to show it. The film states that the French government is afraid of its people, as opposed to America, where the people are afraid of their government. Footage shows thousands of French protesters marching in the streets for better work conditions, housing for all, and anything else they demand to keep up their quality of life.

(V4: "I think that it's about time. I think this next selection is going to be taken to the streets, with the people – the people are going to go to the streets like they do in France. I think the people are going to get up in arms with this.

WMNF: Have you had any personal issues yourself with health care?

V4: Yeah. I'm kinda like in the business and I see what goes on and it's a disgrace.")

Cheryl Rungy is a Canadian living in Sarasota, and has lived in Canada, England and Australia.

(Rungy1: "One thing I do want to stress is that I constantly hear people who really have no knowledge of what it's like to live in other countries or the health care systems in Canada and England and Australia and what they're like. And actually they're v.v. good. I think people need to be better informed and this movie did that.")

Rungy is a trained pediatric nurse and her husband a doctor. She says they may unfairly have easier access to care because of their professions and says they are often looked down upon by professionals in the medical field for going the extra mile for their patients, some times paying out of their own pockets when patients can't pay for what they need themselves.

(Rungy: "I don't think anyone in any country anywhere should have to make a choice between whether they eat or pay for medical care.")

It was unanimous that all who commented on Sicko enjoyed it. But while most people liked it for the information it provided, William McHugh, preferred to think of Sicko as good entertainment. McHugh is CEO of Amerigroup Florida, Inc., a health insurance company for low income Americans.

(McH: I thought it pointed out that there are a lot of v. serious problems with the American health care system. But it did not go far enough to recognize that I think we have the v. best and perhaps sometimes the v. worse in health care. I was an entertaining movie.

WMNF: What were some of the surprising things to you? Or was it all familiar to you?

McH: "It was all very familiar to me. We have problems with access in this country, but we also have the very best care avail to most people. The very poor have quality healthcare through Medicaid. The elderly have good healthcare through Medicare and most people have healthcare through their employer, but there's 45-50 million people who are uninsured, so we've got some major challenges there."

WMNF: Any ideas you have off the top of your head for improvements?

McH: What I did was watch a movie. It was very good. I wanted to see it, because a lot of people will be seeing the movie and it's going to be a v. important item in the next presidential campaign. So I was thoroughly entertained. I think there were some good points and there were some points that were more entertaining than valid but I was glad I saw it and I encourage others to see it.")

Mike Brown of Venice agreed the film was thought provoking and says it causes one to question why health care costs are so high. Brown says after deep thought and discussion, the next stop is calling your congressmen, and doing so often.

(Mike: "That's how the civil rights movement got going. And I think that if we stand up for universal healthcare, sooner or later they're gonna have to listen and going to have to change.")

For WMNF News, I'm Dawn Morgan

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