Stone says Chavez film may struggle to get U.S. play

Tue Sep 8, 2009 8:23am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE (Reuters) - U.S. director Oliver Stone fears his documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of American foreign policy, will struggle to find a distributor at home.

"South of the Border," which had its world premiere at the Venice film festival this week, portrays Chavez as a champion of the poor, and includes interviews with the leaders of Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and Cuba.

He focuses on how a generation of leftist leaders is seeking increasing independence from the International Monetary Fund and, by extension, U.S. economic policy, which Stone criticizes in the movie.

South of the Border also seeks to demonstrate how Chavez has been unfairly demonized by the U.S. media which has cast him as a dangerous maverick who is a threat to security.

Stone, 62, told Reuters in an interview that he anticipated a struggle getting the movie to a U.S. audience, noting how previous films made about Central or South America had shared the same fate.

"'Salvador' with Jimmy Woods had a hard distribution path in America and 'Comandante' with Mr. (Fidel) Castro was taken off the air two weeks before it was going to be on cable, HBO," he said in a joint interview with Chavez late on Monday.

"'Looking for Fidel' was shown, but limited. It's always a problem and this is not just me.

"Most films that deal honestly with south of the border issues run into this logjam. It's an American complex about the back yard, the south, it's been going on for a century."   Continued...

<p>Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez pose while holding a camera for photographers during a red carpet at the 66th Venice Film Festival September 7, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>