Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez received a movie star’s welcome at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, when he walked the red carpet with Oliver Stone for the premiere of the documentary “South of the Border”. Read more on this story below.
Chavez, accompanied by 50 bodyguards, played to the crowd, throwing a flower, touching his heart and, at one point, taking a photographer’s camera to snap a picture himself.
Stone’s latest film documents his trip to meet the Venezuelan leader in an effort to “understand whether he was really the ‘anti-American force’ we’ve all heard about” in US and European media.
Hugo Chavez posed on the red carpet along with the director, who he described as a “hard worker”.
Chavez praised Oliver Stone’s work for depicting what he said were improvements made across Latin America.
“Rebirth is happening in Latin America, and Stone went to look for it and he found it,” Mr Chavez said. “With his cameras and his genius, he’s captured a good part of that rebirth.”
Before Hugo Chavez arrived in Venice, Oliver Stone defended the controversial Latin American leader during a press conference.
“Chavez was elected by popular vote in no fewer than 12 different elections. And Venezuela has seen a clear economic improvement with him,” Stone said.
He added that “South of the Border” was an attempt to combat western views that many Latin American countries were not democratic.
The documentary, he said, was meant “to combat the level of stupidity of the press”.
“If you look now, there are seven presidents, eight countries with Chile, that are really moving away from the Washington consensus control,” Stone said. “But in America, they don’t get that story.”
Chavez was first elected in 1998, is a leading critic of US foreign policy and globalization and has sought to achieve economic independence for his country while boosting cooperation with those around it.
“South of the Border” is showing out of competition at the Venice Film Festival, which ends Saturday with the awarding of the Golden Lion.
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