LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Filmmaker Michael Moore released his latest documentary for free on the Internet on Tuesday, marking a first for the maverick director who aims to encourage young people to vote -- preferably for Democrats -- in November's U.S. presidential election.
"Slacker Uprising," a feature-length film documenting Moore's tour of swing states during the 2004 presidential election year, was made available for a free download instead of being released in movie theaters.
The maker of the award-winning anti-Iraq war blockbuster "Fahrenheit 9/11," said in a statement the gesture was "entirely as a gift to my fans."
"The only return any of us are hoping for is the largest turnout of young voters at the polls in November," Moore said.
Moore has long been known as a firebrand filmmaker. He took on large corporations in 1989's "Roger & Me" and the U.S. gun industry in 2002's "Bowling for Columbine," which earned him an Oscar. "Slacker Uprising," made for about $2 million, comes on the heels of Moore's blistering expose of the U.S. health care system, "SiCKO," in 2007.
Although "Slacker Uprising" chronicles the director's efforts to get young people on either side of the political spectrum to vote, he said the documentary was also a "tribute to the young voters who are going to save this country from four more years of Republican rule."
Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are in a neck-and-neck race for the White House in the November 4 election, according to opinion polls.
Moore encouraged fans to download, e-mail or share the movie with everyone and anyone, or to show it in schools, colleges, church halls and community centers, adding, "I don't want to see a dime from this."
He said several websites, including iTunes and Amazon.com, were providing streaming or downloading services for free.
Moore marked the release with a one-hour online chat with fans. Hundreds of Obama supporters responded on the www.slackeruprising.com message boards, thanking Moore.
"Wow .. I really enjoyed the film ... sent it to all my friends on yahoo, myspace, facebook ... we cannot have another republican in the White House ... Vote Obama 08," wrote a contributor called Don.
The documentary is also available as a low-cost DVD for those not in the download community.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Wiessler