‘Fahrenheit’ finds eager audience

Controversial film breaks records at the Lynwood.

It’s a fact: filmmaker Michael Moore is a bigger draw than invading space aliens on Bainbridge.

“We did three times the box office of ‘Men In Black’ or ‘Independence Day’ (on opening weekend),” said TJ Faddis, manager of the Historic Lynwood Theatre, of Moore’s documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which opened at the theater Friday.

“I thought it would build,” she said. “We’re kind of standing here with our mouths agape.”

Faddis estimates about 2,800 Lynwood patrons watched “Fahrenheit 9/11” over the three-day weekend – surpassing every record she’s seen set in her 20 years with the theater.

The film about the Bush administration’s reaction to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, saw the Lynwood’s midday showings sell out for the first time. Of the 12 weekend showings, seven were sold out.

Cars lined Lynwood Center Road in both directions throughout the weekend in a Rotary Auction-esque scene, with hundreds of patrons chatting as they waited in the “have ticket” line or the “hoping to get ticket” line.

The film will run four showings a day through July 8.

Patrons came from as far as Port Angeles, Port Townsend, and even Seattle – where the Neptune was sold out all weekend.

“It’s scary stuff, stuff I didn’t know before we got into the war,” said Nicky Orcutt of Poulsbo.

Anna McGrath, a senior at Bainbridge High School, saw the film with her sister and friends Monday afternoon. The group agreed that scenes of wounded soldiers, and of a mother reading a last letter from her dead soldier son, were hard to take.

“It was really intense. Some of the images of wounded U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens really blew me away,” McGrath said.

“I didn’t walk in thinking all of it will be true, but I see there are valid points.”

Ann Lott, a BHS sophomore, noted the reaction the president’s own statements used in the film.

“A lot of people think the movie is upsetting because it insults Bush,” she said, “but it’s like if you watch the movie, you can’t help it because he brings it on himself.”

Faddis said reactions to the film ranged from anger at the Bush administration, to quiet introspection, to tears. She falls into the third group; her 20-year old son Tom Faddis, a National Guardsman, was shipped to Iraq two months ago with best friend and fellow islander Corey Christopherson.

“Especially when you have somebody over there, you gather all the information you can, so you know where to stand on the issues,” Faddis said.

“To my mind, this film is more information. I don’t have to accept it, but it’s nice to have it because it helps balance out what the mainstream (media) is telling us.”

Said Faddis of filmgoers with friends and relatives in Iraq: “I’m glad I’m (at the theater) for those folks overwhelmed with some of the images, that they have someone to talk to.”

She recalls meeting a woman whose brother is in Iraq, and was out in the lobby crying for most of the show. She returned the next day to finish watching the film.

The Bainbridge theater was the only theater in Kitsap County to open the film – finding out only last week it was getting a print.

By showing the Moore documentary at the Lynwood, “I feel like I’m doing something for Tom,” Faddis said.

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