Oliver Stone Lends Another Point of View in ‘South of the Border’

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CHICAGO – Oliver Stone, bless him, still has a fire in his belly to tackle controversial subjects and shine a light into the dark corners that the American media skitters away from on a daily basis. Part travelogue, part enlightenment and all Stone, “South of the Border” is eye-opening documentary on the South American people revolution.

Focusing primarily on the vilified (in this country and elsewhere) Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez, Stone digs into the American interests and involvement in the Chávez movement, where Venezuela’s rich oil fields are the goal, oil that capitalist interests can’t get their slick hands on due to the nationalization of the product by Chávez.

Going into the Chávez history, a history that includes the military, a media that was decidedly against his initial quest for power and a failed coup backed by the Bush administration, Stone shows the other side of how a canvas can be painted when portraying Hugo Chávez. And how despite tremendous effort and propaganda spewed, the monied interests can’t wrest power away from him.

This prevailing wind of Chávez-ism is rooted in the Castros of Cuba (Fidel, and now Raúl) and that wind is blowing throughout South America, long oppressed in the native society by outside colonialism, which desired their natural resources. The list of countries supportive of Chávez and electing similar presidents is becoming too big not to notice – Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

Hugo Chávez and Oliver Stone in ‘South of the Border’
Hugo Chávez and Oliver Stone of ‘South of the Border’
Photo Credit: Good Apple Productions

Through interviews with these new leaders and an analysis of Chávez, Oliver Stone again is the agent provocateur, using the art of the documentary as a lightning rod for a persuasive and incendiary point of view.

“May you live in interesting times” is the old Chinese proverb and this documentary is certainly interesting. Stone’s timing of course coincides with the upheaval in the United States regarding the divisions between Blue/Red states, rich/poor, and propaganda versus truth. All these issues are evident in this documentary, and what is most interesting is that selected countries and citizens of South America have elected to go with the so-called socialist opposition. The “purity” of the official United States interpretation of this movement takes a beating as well, and it will be interesting (that word again) to see how the strong-armed and misinformation tactics of the Bush Administration will be rectified or changed in the current schematic.

The profiles of the leaders by Stone are chummy and lighter than a usual “60 Minutes” style sit-down but serious issues are discussed. Often there is not an opportunity to see a humanity behind the scapegoat “dictators,” and Stone provides a forum for simple understanding of the evolution behind this rise to power.

Serious consideration is given to the United States complicity in promoting a “boogeyman” designation to socialist leaders like Chávez. It is in “our” best interest to denigrate a leader who uses nationalized oil profits to build food factories and establish self sufficient farms? A leader who has lowered abject poverty rates in his own country? Seemingly, and from a distance and through the U.S. media filter, it isn’t in “our” best interests. At least this is what the Bush administration decided, according to Stone.

The film is told in a clean story and interview style, with touches such as an old Chamber-of-Commerce style film about Venezuelan Oil, which evokes the more simpler black and white viewpoint that the United States has propagated for years. Old documentary and cinéma vérité pro Albert Maysles (”Gimme Shelter,’ “Grey Gardens”) is along for the ride, and Oliver Stone as host dances among the cameras, providing awareness of their lenses that is apparent to both the subjects and audience.

Oliver Stone Sets Up an Angle with Argentinian President Christina Kirchner  in ‘South of the Border’
Oliver Stone Sets Up an Angle with Argentinian President Christina Kirchner in ‘South of the Border’
Photo Credit: Good Apple Productions

It is refreshing to get another opinion regarding the mammoth land mass below the U.S. borders. Somewhere between the constant media harangue of “socialist” and the reality of living in certain countries during the 21st Century is where the truth lies. If it is up to the people to decide, there is a certain tide rising “down there” that all of us need to pay attention to, not just the companies that desire resources.

We need an Oliver Stone to kick us in the butt every so often, at least to continue our education and evolution.

“South of the Border” opens in a limited release, including Chicago, on July 9th. Check local listings for show times. Featuring interviews with Hugo Chávez, Raúl Castro, Christina Kirchner, Fernando Lugo and Luiz Inacio da Silva. Writtten by Mark Weisbrot and Tariq Ali and
directed by Oliver Stone. Not Rated.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2010 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

NOW POW's picture

---COP OUT

WHY is Stone wasting time on stale, ‘80’s Show’
demoralization?

-We surely stand in the 11th hour of the CFR——RED China
handover and takedown op.

On this, the BURIED without a trace

——200th Anniversary of the Defeat of Napoleonic Globalism

——40th Anniversary of the Nixon-MAO sellout summit

——60th Anniversary of the EUGENICS ‘uncomfortable’
——————————KOREAN WAR—————————————

STONE is AWOL.

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