of the Border is Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone's record of a trip to
Venezuela to meet the president, Hugo Chávez. Ahead of the film's premiere at
the Venice film festival on Monday, Stone writes about his hopes for the film,
and the future of US foreign policy in the region.
I've been fortunate to be
able to make several films about North America's neglected "backyard"
- Central and South America.
independently-shot Salvador, about the US involvement with the death squads of
El Salvador, and starring James Woods in an Oscar-nominated performance, was
released in 1986; this was followed by Comandante in 2003, and Looking for
Fidel in 2004, with both of these documentaries exploring Fidel Castro in
Each of these films has
struggled to be distributed in North America. I was invited to Venezuela to
meet President Hugo Chávez for the first time during his aborted rescue mission
of Colombian hostages, held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), during Christmas of 2007.
As is often the case, the
man I met was not the man I'd read and heard about in the US media. I was able
to return in January 2009 to interview President Chávez in more depth. Was Hugo
Chávez really the anti-American force we've been told he is? Once we began our
journey, we found ourselves going beyond Venezuela to several other countries,
and interviewing seven presidents in the region, telling a larger and even more
compelling story, which has now become South of the Border. Leader after leader
seemed to be saying the same thing. They wanted to control their own resources,
strengthen regional ties, be treated as equals with the US, and become
financially independent of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Based on our experiences in
Iraq, Americans must question the role of our media in demonising foreign
leaders as our enemies. The consequences of this can be brutal.
This is a continuing story.
It is going on right now with Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Hopefully, in our film,
you'll get to hear a far different side of the "official" story.
a world exclusive trailer from Oliver Stone's South of the Border