Oliver Stone’s South of the Border: Sizzling Hot!

Oliver Stone’s newest film, South of the Border,  “A Political Road Movie,” fills the back seat with the old beat up opinion and travels through seven countries of South America, serving up more heat than the media can handle.

At the Venice Film festival, Oliver Stone and Hugo Chavez.

Stone, the master of the narrative feature expose, has taken audiences through past Presidential administrations, been parodied as paranoid, seeing conspiracy in everything with eagle-eyed sharpness what the mass either can’t or won't.

At the Venice Film Festival.

Stone effortlessly engages the audience, entertaining them with his perceptions, for a peek, if only for a moment into the mind of what the media has labeled The Lunatic.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Oliver Stone and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Never taking the proverbial left turn to nowhere, Oliver Stone embraces the leftist rebel and draws the like-minded and even the intellectually curious into this road trip. A coming of age, for the American population, we now find  ourselves inundated with an influx of Latin Americas who are thriving contributors to society and a media, predominately white old school, intent on maintaining the self-proclaimed deity status they have embraced.

Oliver Stone, Producers Rob Wilson and Fernando Sulchin arrive in La Paz, Bolivia. **

Stone, of course, began this coming of age trip, reevaluating, maybe, his own ideals, with a series of in-depth interviews with the current public enemy Number One: Hugo Chavez. And of course, we know he is public enemy number one because the media has spoon fed the mass with mind control deftness into believing that he is public enemy Number One. Forget that his land is rich with oil; off shore with no possibility of spills in our back yard should the worst happen.

Oliver Stone and President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo who gives Oliver Stone the best compliment a director can get. **

As Stone meets and, as celebrity can, seduces the president or is it the other way around? Either way, the two become friends spawned by memories of war; soldiers, men with compassion and curiosity. There seemed to be a genuine bond developing on screen and, as the two promoted the film around the world, off screen as well.

Former Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner. **

On Chavezs invitation Stone decides it is "all in" for this road movie and off he goes to six other countries. His meeting with the other presidents brought enlightenment on their personal beliefs regarding the value of their positions, the needs of their people, the effects of the media and U.S. involvement.

Argentinean President Madam Christine Kirchner and Oliver Stone. **

The scenes are almost perceived, or over shadowed, with an intellectual elitism, not portrayed that way and it is interesting to question whether that is the editing or the viewer.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa (l) and Cuban President Raul Castro. **

We as a society, believe our intellect is superior to third world countries and even third world presidents; even those educated in the United States, like Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, from East Coast Liberal Universities that spawn intellectual elitism.  In reality, these presidents probably have a hidden agenda, as everyone does, and still their public agenda is to address the needs of the population. And they do that well, with an almost unilateral solidarity, in EU style, they are uniformed in their beliefs.

Oliver Stone with a the familar set design of Larry King in the background.

The second element of the film is the indictment of the American media and their use of mind control tactics. The film opens with every pundit, from the most trusted names in journalism to the contemporary, offering their "opinion” of Hugo Chavez and Venezuela. We know already the phrase “Friend of Osama” is translated in the Media Book for Dummies as, "We are going to war" and is a preparatory statement to ready the hearts of the people to swing the pendulum of political support in favor of the plan.

Oliver Stone and Hugo Chavez interviewed by local Venezuelan TV.

The manipulative power of the press is well known and understood and, as Stone travels to countries who exercise a belief system similar to United States, they find contempt for the media is everywhere.
The American media manipulates the mass population into believing their agenda: Strike fear into the hearts similar to Gaston in Disney's Beauty and the Beast: Kill the beast; he'll eat your children. Kill the beast: He'll steal your sons; terrorize your villages. The media wants the mass to believe they are "father knows best" guardians of the American mind similar to any cult leader.
Which is what Stone exposes as South of the Border is more an indictment of the media than the leadership, intellectual prowess, skills, talents or terror ties of the South American presidents.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, Oliver Stone and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Oliver Stone and Tariq Ali, at South of the Border’s Press Day spoke candidly about the film , the evolution of the media and of course, the future American involvement in South America

Oliver Stone and screenwriter, Tariq Ali at the recent Press Day for South of the Border. *

Ali, a British and Pakistani historian, is credited along with Mark Weisbrot as screenwriters. With Mr. Weisbrot absent Mr. Ali, modestly and graciously, shared his belief about the value of his role in the film. He was joined by Oliver Stone midway through the first question, who immediately championed his involvement and set the record straight. Our interview follows:

Oliver Stone at the recent South of the Border Press Day. *

Janet Walker: To me the film seemed, from a script point of view, like extensive interview sessions. Who came up with the subject matter and questions? Who directed the writing of the script?

At the roundtable, Oliver Stone and Tariq Ali. *

Tariq Ali: The first I got involved with the film after quite a lot of the interviews had been done. So I helped structure it in terms of what the film should be because there were many possibilities.  There was an enormous amount of material and I thought the strengths of the film were a famous, one of Hollywood’s most famous director’s hopping on a plane and talking to seven presidents and that it was probably one of the best ways to do the movie was a ‘Political Road Movie.’ Once it had been cut like that I then did, you know, a large chuck, of the commentary, to accompany it but the interviews had all been done by the time I came on board.

Historian, Tariq Ali.

“He flatters himself [with his humility].” Stone stated, referring to the stoic Ali, as he entered the room joining the Roundtable,  “It was too academic and Tariq gave it a flair. Mark [Weisbrot] is more academic, more research oriented and to many statistics. It needed a little bit more drama."

Oliver Stone and screenwriter Mark Weisbrot. **

Janet Walker: The film depicts the media as spoon feeding the mass with mind control tactics similar to a cult and targets Hugo Chavez as the next number one enemy and supporter of Osama Bin Laden. In your experiences are these preparatory statements for war and does his country believe these are preparatory statements for war against Venezuela?

Hugo Chavez and Oliver Stone.

Oliver Stone: Well, what would you think if there was a coup d'état against you and the United States was involved?  And what would you think if there was an oil strike the next year that almost destroyed your economy and the United States continued to call you names and say you're anti-democrat and a dictator?

He[Hugo Chavez] has reasons, he has several reasons to fear the United States. So every time he says anything about us we report it as if he is attacking us. Which is what the Castro technique was. Castro was the one who always got killed by us. Castro was the one who got invaded by us once and the second big invasion was planned. People forget and Errol Morris didn’t do us any good by that documentary [The Fog of War] by not reminding the American people that the nuclear crisis came about as a result of the US military preparing an invasion of Cuba. People forget that. It’s so crazy. Its always cause and effect. In our history. It’s like, ‘what did they say about America?’  Their attacking us? It’s crazy. We’re huge, we’re enormous. We have power and their always attacking us, right? Iran is attacking us now; Iraq was attacking us; Venezuela was attacking us. 

Tariq Ali: And Columbia has huge amount of bases not far from the Venezuelan front.
Oliver Stone: And that was an issue with Obama, by the way, he did expand into a seventh base. By the way the fourth fleet was created and sailing around South American waters which drives Brazil nuts particularly. You know that? They're right off the shores; they’re all over.  It was the third fleet a few years ago and now it’s the fourth fleet.

Hugo Chavez re-living, for the camera, a normal childhood.

Janet Walker: What were your expectations when you began to make this film? At concept, what were your expectations for the film?

Oliver Stone:  Very little. I thought, like I said to Fernando [Sulchin] we’d be lucky to make Venezuelan TV. I was paying him back at that time for a Secret History of the United States, it’s a ten hour movie, I said, ‘Chavez, I’ll do it for you but no one’s going to pay attention in this country. It dead PR. I’m surprised. It’s the little engine that could because the film has been seen a lot.  And by the way, it’s sold, television, everywhere. We sold American, Showtime, too. Cinema Libre Studio has the domestic rights and England is Dogwoof.

At the roundtable, Oliver Stone and Tariq Ali. *

South of the Border, drives home the message and tosses the old guard opinion out at the nearest rest stop. It brims in the boling pot of controversary. It is sizzling hot!

South of the Border opens in New York, June 25, 2010 and in Los Angles on July 2, 2010.


For more information: www.southoftheborderdoc.com
Pictures where noted (*) by Janet Walker courtesy of Pulse Point Productions,Inc. www.pulsepointproductionsinc.com.
Pictures where noted (**) courtesy of Francois Duhanel.

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