The Auteurs Daily: Venice. South of the Border

 

The Auteurs Daily

South of the Border

"Was Hugo Chávez really the anti-American force we've been told he is?" asks Oliver Stone in the Guardian. "Once we began our journey, we found ourselves going beyond Venezuela to several other countries, and interviewing seven presidents in the region, telling a larger and even more compelling story, which has now become South of the Border. Leader after leader seemed to be saying the same thing. They wanted to control their own resources, strengthen regional ties, be treated as equals with the US, and become financially independent of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."

 

"Good-humored, illuminating and without cant, Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone's documentary South of the Border is a rebuttal of what he views as the fulminations and lies of right-wing media at home and abroad regarding the socialist democracies of South America," writes Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter. "Featuring interviews with seven national leaders who all express great affection for their neighbors to the north if not for historical US foreign policy, the film suggests a clear way forward for a continent that has largely shaken off the grip of imperialism and what Stone calls predatory capitalism as opposed to benign capitalism."

"South of the Border at first seems like a natural pairing with [Michael] Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, and the two were presented on consecutive days at the Venice Film Festival," writes Jay Weissberg in Variety. "But despite their similarly unsubtle ways of conveying information, the two helmers are miles apart: Where Moore worships a sentimentalized Average Joe, Stone kneels before King Power. Completely seduced by left-wing strong men, Stone rarely has time for the Everyman, unless they're the human equivalents of Potemkin villages, happy folk making music and cheering on their great leaders."

"Chávez emerges as a sympathetic but still slightly sinister chap, and his childlike willingness to perform for the camera is very much at odds with his military demeanour," writes Empire's Damon Wise. "Stone doesn't probe too much, but he does, quietly and effectively, put across that Chávez isn't simply a Saddam-style despot who's putting out the welcome mat for Al-Qaeda."

For the tweeting Time Out London crew, this was "great, if wholly uncritical, fun. Biggest applause yet."

 

Updates, 7/9: Chavez himself has shown up on the red carpet in Venice, reports the AFP.

Verso UK recommends a few related titles from its catalogue.

 

Updates, 8/9: "The 70 minute movie - which was cowritten by the British-Pakistani commentator Tariq Ali, author of the 2006 study Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, and photographed in part by docu-doyen Albert Maysles - is amateur-night as cinema, as lopsided and cheerleadery as its world view," writes Time's Richard Corliss.

Christopher Toothaker reports from Caracas for the AP, a tip from Richard Brody: "The government said Monday a leading TV channel aligned with Venezuela's opposition could lose its broadcast license for allegedly airing a viewer's text message calling for a coup and the assassination of President Hugo Chavez."

Before Stone went to Venice, Tim Arango spoke with him for a New York Times piece on the sequel to Wall Street, which is just about to start shooting. And there's accompanying video.

"Stone's plans to interview Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are apparently still on track," reports the Guardian's Ben Walters. Also: Video from the film and brief interviews with Stone and Chavez.

 

Responses

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  • RaySquirrel

    “In the light of the intimidation and harassment of a number of opposition figures in Venezuela, including Manuel Rosales, the elected mayor of the city of Maracaibo, Parliament expresses its “profound concern at the deterioration in the situation and in the quality of democracy in Venezuela”, which is being threatened with collapse by “the growing authoritarianism” displayed by President Chávez."

    That statement was made by that bastion of right-wing group think, the European Parliment:

    http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/015-55235-124-05-19-902-20090506IPR55234-04-05-2009-2009-false/default_en.htm

    He may not be putting out the welcome mat for Al-Qaeda. That is only because he is putting out the welcome mat for another internationally condemned terrorist organization.

  • Elvira

    I am Venezuelan, and I am insulted that Oliver Stone, reportedly, did not include any reference to the opposition Chavez receives here. Whether he likes it or not, it exists and it has been there for the TEN years of his government. If he wanted to give the audience a complete, profound panorama of the socialist democracies (ha!) he could at least have shown both sides of the coin… I think that’s very irresponsible of him.

    If I continue reading about his lack of criticism, I probably won’t be watching it when it plays here. I don’t need to pay to be offended.

  • carloss

    This might as well be Stone’s “Triumph of the Will”.

  • Nick

    Right, because Chavez is just like Hitler. Good point.

  • Max

    There is a good Chavez documentary called “This Revolution Will Not Be Televised” that portrays the opposition to Chavez in Venezuela (as well as catching how manipulative it is). I can’t say I know everything about him but he would seem to have the rich abroad and all throughout his whole country (whom of course control national media) against him vehemently, and of course, he is not part of ‘the American family’. You know what that means.

  • carloss

    No Nick, but because this is pure poltical propaganda. Not for a moment does Stone question the politics of his subjects, and he seems to be starstruck during the whole film.

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