This week at the Venice International Film Festival, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez traded in his red beret for the red carpet. Oliver Stone’s documentary, South of the Border, about the embattled leader, premiered this week at the Italian film festival, and the director said he is prepared for strong reactions from both sides of the political spectrum.
The film provides a sympathetic glimpse into the personality and government of the Venezuelan president. "Fifteen to 20 percent of this film is outright scandalous criticism of President Chavez. We show it point blank," Stone told Reuters. "He's called everything by Fox News but also by The New York Times."
But the Oscar-winning director says that the film is about more than Chavez’s leadership abilities or his attempts to unify South America. "This is a bigger issue than Mr. Chavez and South America," Stone said. "Not only is there a revolution there, but there is also this issue in America of constantly seeking out enemies, whether they be in Vietnam, whether they be in Iraq or whether they be in Iran.”
Stone goes on to claim, "Venezuela was on the hit list, no question. Why do we make enemies? Is it to maintain our own military? Is it to justify the creation of the American superstate? Why?"
However you feel about Chavez, Stone says it is unlikely that many people in the United States will be able to see the film because he fears the documentary will struggle to find a distributor at home. "Most films that deal honestly with south of the border issues run into this logjam. It's an American complex about the backyard, the south; it's been going on for a century."
Chavez, meanwhile, insisted that he was looking to build "a real democratic model" in Venezuela, and reiterated that he was hopeful he could work with President Barack Obama.