Back in April, we reported that a film crew for Michael Moore’s upcoming documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story, had traveled to Wilkes-Barre, PA to interview unnamed figures in a recent courthouse scandal involving judges receiving kickbacks from local private prisons. Given the nature of documentary filmmaking and the fact that we knew very little about the documentary’s subject matter, it was uncertain if the interviews would ultimately fit into the overall theme of Moore’s film.
But now we know that the scandal will get at least a brief mention, as Wilkes-Barre daily, the Times Leader, has confirmed today that they have been contacted by Moore’s production company Front Street Productions, for photographs of the two judges accused in the scandal for inclusion in the film.
The scandal, which made national news when it broke at the beginning of the year, involved Luzerne County judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, are currently awaiting trial after admitting that they convicted hundreds of juvenile defendants and sentencing them to privately run detention facilities in exchange for nearly $2.6 million in kickbacks. The two are currently facing up to seven years in prison, while a class action law suit is being organized on behalf of the children falsely convicted. Since the two judges were charged, the federal corruption invetsigation has expanded to include local school boards and a wastewater treatment facility.
According to it’s logline at the IMDb, Moore’s documentary will “look at the global financial crisis and the U.S. economy during the transition between the incoming Obama Administration and the outgoing Bush Administration.” Presumably, this will include looking at the impact of privatization of traditional government services such as the prison services involved into the Pennsylvania scandal.
Moore released the first trailer for Capitalism: A Love Story late last week with our first look at some of the footage Moore has assembled. It does contain some things Moore has been well-known for over his past decade as a filmmaker- the political theater stunts and interviews that often make satirical comment on Moore’s thesis.
Capitalism is set for a limited release on September 23, with a wider release on October 2.