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Gary Younge
Disney blocks Michael Moore film on Bush links with leading Saudis

Mr Moore's agent said Disney had pulled out because its involvement could jeopardise tax breaks the company receives from the state of Florida, where Mr Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor. Disney claims it does not want to be associated with the film because it risks politically alienating too many people.

The principal investor in the film, to be screened in Cannes this month, is Miramax Films, co-founded by Harvey Weinstein, a big donor to the Democratic party. Miramax, a division of Disney, has been told it cannot release the film.

Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Disney's chief executive, Michael Eisner, had asked him last year to pull out of the deal with Miramax, suggesting that involvement could hurt tax breaks his company receives for its park, hotel and other concerns in Florida.

"Michael Eisner asked me not to sell this movie to Harvey Weinstein," Mr Emanuel told the New York Times. "That doesn't mean I listened to him. He definitely indicated there were tax incentives he was getting for the Disney corporation and that's why he didn't want me to sell it to Miramax. He didn't want a Disney company involved."

In a statement on his website, Moore, 50, who did not return requests for an interview, said: "I would have hoped by now that I would be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter."

"At some point, the question has to be asked, 'Should this be happening in a free and open society where monied inter ests essentially call the shots regarding information that the public is allowed to see?'

"If this is partisan in any way it is partisan on the side of the poor and working people in this country ,who provide fodder for this war machine."

The film does not yet have a release date in North America. Miramax and Disney have a contractual arrangement that would allow Disney to prevent distribution under particular circumstances, such as a budget of more than $30 to $35m or an adult rating.

Disney said distributing the film would be against the company's interests because Disney caters for all political persuasions.

"We hope to amicably resolve the situation in the near future," said a Miramax spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik.

Moore is no stranger to controversy or success. Publication of his bestselling book Stupid White Men was almost cancelled after the September 11 attacks and only came out after a campaign by librarians.

Bowling for Columbine, about gun control, won an Oscar last year.

Fahrenheit 911 highlights the financial connections between the Bush family and prominent Saudi families, including the family of Osama bin Laden.

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