Hugo Chavez Signing Autographs at Venice Film Festival

Hugo ChavezHugo Chavez. Man of the people. Enemy of America. Dictator. Movie star?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in Italy today signing autographs and walking the red carpet to see Oliver Stone’s new documentary South of the Border, which is about Chavez and his strained relationship with the United States.

“What’s happening in Latin America is like a Renaissance,” Chavez told reporters, according to a Reuters article.

It’ll be interesting to see if this movie gets any play in the U.S.; South of the Border is actively selling to distributors in Europe and Latin America, but there’s little love to be found for Chavez here. To me, the guy seems like a crackpot, a dictator wannabe who could very well be if things go his way. History has shown us plenty of men who “fought for the people” only to become their own worst enemy, and many of the things Chavez has done “for the people” in Venezuela are, when all is said and done, not good moves. Sure, my disdain for the man is based on his caricature in Western media, but even with that bias taken into account, I can’t see how this man is good for his country. Basically, as soon as a president attempts to alter the constitution to allow him to remain in power indefinitely, he has destroyed any credibility he once had.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see Stone’s viewpoint on the man – and the reactions the film receives in the United States. According to an article published today in Variety, Stone set out to challenge the negative image of the man – whether he actually does so remains to be seen. Stone told Variety:

“I didn’t just want to do a denigration of what the American media says about him. I wanted to take it further and go to seven or eight presidents and ask their views on Chavez. That’s how it became a bit more of a road movie, going from country to country. All these leaders end up coming down favor of Chavez.”

The bigger question: will Chavez’s bloated ego allow him to enjoy the film?

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Movies