Stone film says Chavez, leaders right to stand up to US

Director Oliver Stone says in a new film that Chavez and other leftist South American leaders were right to stand up to Washington.

Stone film says Chavez, leaders right to stand up to US

Director Oliver Stone seeks to demolish US demonisation of leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in his hard-hitting "South of the Border" screened Sunday at the Venice film festival, and says in a new film that they were right to stand up to Washington.

Through a series of interviews interlaced with footage from US media and official statements, Stone is out to show that Chavez is not "public enemy number one" as so often depicted on US media outlets such as Fox News.

He tells the story of Venezuela's "peaceful revolution" since Chavez came to power in 1998, and how Venezuela's transformation has had knock-on effects in the rest of the continent.

Stone's documentary portrayed him as a hero of the people who refuses to be bullied.

Originally an effort to redress what Stone saw as unfair treatment of Chavez by broadcasters and newspapers, South of the Border turned into a bigger project and included interviews not only with Chavez but with six other presidents in the region.

"I think the movie, if you've seen it, shows very clearly the level of stupidity in the kind of broad statements that are made about Mr. Chavez," Stone told reporters in Venice, where South of the Border has its world premiere on Monday.

"But I didn't want to make a movie only about the American media's attacks. I felt that that was too small for what this man is about. This man is a big phenomenon.

"So we travelled in a road trip kind of movie to visit these other presidents and we saw the positive side of what is going on, the sweeping change in this region. It's a very important historical phenomenon that is ... ignored in America."

South of the Border combines clips of U.S. broadcasters and commentators describing Chavez with interviews and news footage of economic upheaval across South America during the last decade.

"A struggle"

Stone points the finger of blame at the International Monetary Fund, which he says imposed "neo-liberal", U.S.-led conditions in return for loans, and hails today's leaders for wresting back control of their resources.

Chavez, and other leaders including Bolivia's Evo Morales and Argentina's Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, criticize the fund, and voice support for greater regional cooperation.

"Each one of these countries ... is in for a struggle," Stone said. "The idea that Chavez has expressed ... is 'Let's unify, let's stay together here because we are up against a giant', not only the U.S. government giant but against corporations that are multinational and very strong."

Asked about anti-Chavez demonstrations over the weekend in Caracas involving thousands of people, Stone replied:

"Chavez continues to remain very popular in Venezuela and he keeps getting elected. Without doubt social improvement has been extreme in Venezuela. There are many problems still but it's a wonderful change that's occurred since 2000."

And questioned whether Chavez would attend the gala premiere in Venice, he replied: "I cannot say yes, and I cannot say no."

It includes amusing scenes as when Chavez is riding around his childhood yard on a bicycle when it buckles underneath him, and Kirchner complaining as she waits for someone to bring her a photograph: "Men can be slow. My god!"

Stone said he had been in talks with Iran to make a documentary about President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but that scheduling on both sides had prevented it.

"I was very interested because I thought we were going to go to war in Iran," he said. "If we had been more successful in Iraq, I have no doubts that we would have been more involved in the Iranian situation now."



Agencies

Last Mod: 08 Eylül 2009, 12:00
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