66ème Festival du Cinéma de Venise (Mostra), 6ème jour (07/09/2009)
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For anyone wondering what the way out of struggles in America may be, director Oliver Stone's documentary, South of the Border, is a conversation starter. It's a film with the potential to push Americans to assess not only the way the U.S. acts and behaves toward Latin America but also how Americans are expected to reject the social movements of Latin America.
This documentary, written by Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), and Tariq Ali, author of Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, shows how much of the continent has been raised out of poverty and thrown off agendas of privatization promoted by world organizations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Simultaneously, it challenges media representations of Latin America in the U.S. media.
The film opens with a clip from the show Fox & Friends, which airs on Fox News. The clip shows a conversation that the show's hosts--Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Gretchen Carlson--had over Hugo Chavez, leader of Venezuela, and his use of coca leaves. The hosts liken Chavez's use of the leaves to the use of cocaine, suggesting cocaine comes from the leaves, and caricaturize him as a drug addict even though the leaves are not cocaine. The media misrepresentation serves as a launch pad into the first stop on Stone's road trip through South America, which is Venezuela.
Stone spends more time in Venezuela than in the other countries featured in the film. That's because Venezuela has really been the catalyst for the leftist and left-leaning social movements that have sprung up and made South America a continent of people willing to fight for an alternative way forward in the world. It's also because, as Stone highlights in the film, the U.S. was involved in a coup in 2002, which sought to remove Hugo Chavez from power and replace him with someone more suitable to America and other world organizations like the IMF.