Venezuela: Expectations for the Oliver Stone Documentary

The trailer for the documentary called “South of the Border” from U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone, which profiles Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, has been a topic within Venezuelan blogosphere. Many are speculating on the content of the film based on the trailer, as it has yet to be released in Venezuela. On one hand, some bloggers believe that this documentary will favor the President and will allow him to respond to the negative press that he receives at home and abroad. On the other hand, other bloggers believe that the film will not show both sides of the story.

Oliver Stone and Hugo Chávez at Venice Film Festival. Photo by nicogenin and used under a Creative Commons license.

Oliver Stone and Hugo Chávez at Venice Film Festival. Photo by nicogenin and used under a Creative Commons license.

Carlos Caridad-Montero of Blogacine [es] notes that the documentary is a “portrait of the Venezuelan President” and includes the thoughts from other Latin American leaders, who make an appearance, such as Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, and Bolivian President Evo Morales, among others. According to Caridad-Montero, many of these leaders share his ideology.

The choice of leaders invited to participate in the documentary is not lost on Julia of the blog Anti-Patriotic Venezuela, who writes:

Maybe is a very objective documentary that tries to show the true face of Chavez and other South American leaders beyond what's been told about them in the -so called – “mainstream media”. But in such face of the South American change, people like Uribe from Colombia or Alan from Peru were not interviewed – as far as I know, if I'm mistaken I hope some reader corrects me in the comment section – by Oliver. Maybe it can be a lot of things. But for me is yet another piece of political propaganda disguised as a “documentary”, for me it has strong chances of being something like the infamous “The Revolution will not be televised”.

The film was released at the Venice Film Festival in early September, and was recently screened in New York City at an event attended by Chávez, who was in town for the United Nations General Assembly.

Harold of the blog Panfleto Negro [es] provides a hard critique of the filmmaker and writes about Stone's “desperate cry for attention.” He adds that Stone's other profile pieces have not portrayed the entire story, and believes that this one will not be any different:

Lo de Stone el día de ayer en la alfombra roja con Chávez es, a todas luces, un desgarrador grito por atención. Y es que Stone lleva años tratando de crear “polémica” para hacer prensa a como de lugar. Desde su apología a la figura de Fidel Castro en Comandante, hasta las críticas a los presidentes republicanos como en la nombrada W, o en la mucho más antigua Nixon. Ni las excelentes actuaciones de Josh Brolin o Anthony Hopkins pudieron rescatar la mediocridad de ambas cintas…

What Stone did yesterday in the red carpet was, evidently, a heartbreaking cry for attention. Stone has been trying to create “controversy” to be in the press at any price. From his apologist piece on Fidel Castro's in the film Comandante, to the critique of Republican presidents, as in the well-known film W or in the much older film Nixon. Neither the excellent performances of Josh Brolin nor Anthony Hopkins could rescue the mediocrity of both films…

The blog Waiting for Godot [es] guesses that the documentary was made with the money from the Venezuelan State. The blogger adds that Stone should have made an action film in Venezuela, so that people can see what really happens in the country.

NO, Oliver Stone, no podemos ver tu película como un documental informativo, porque a nosotros un Chávez como el que presentas igualado a una promesa de futuro es tan ficción como el que tú seas un hombre revolucionario y socialista.

NO, Oliver Stone, we cannot see your film as an informative documentary, because to use, the Chávez that you present as the same as a promise of the future is as fictitious as you are a revolutionary and socialist man.

However, the blog Aporrea [es] writes about the contrast in reception received by Chávez at the film festivals and what is happening in some social networking sites:

La calurosa acogida al líder venezolano contrastó con la fría y escasa respuesta que días atrás tuvo en Europa y el resto del mundo la convocatoria a marchas bajo la consigna “No más Chávez”, promovida por la derecha internacional a través de la página de internet Facebook.

The warm welcome given to the Venezuelan leader contrasted with the cold and weak response from the demonstrations against him under the banner “No more Chavez,” promoted by the International Right through Facebook

Some blogs from abroad are also providing their thoughts on how the film will help balance the message about Chávez. Canadian Sabina Becker of News of the Restless writes:

All weekend long we've been hearing nothing in the news but how everybody and their dog is out marching against that “evil dictator Chávez” (o rly?) Well, finally the media have woken up to the fact that there's another side to the story.


Er. Actually, it's not evil at all. It's good, isn't it? Yes, absolutely. So why's it taken so long for the media to catch on? Well, they didn't have Ollie Stone to interview. And they couldn't very well break the news on his latest doc without talking to the man. And oh, bad luck for them–every word out of his mouth has been nothing but good about Chavecito, and slams for his detractors.

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