Chavez Opens Venezuelan Film Studio to Counter Hollywood

This weekend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez inaugurated a new film studio complex aimed at challenging what he called “Hollywood’s cultural dictatorship”.

Saturday, VenezuelanPresident Hugo Chávez inaugurated a new film studio complexaimed at challenging what he called “Hollywood’s culturaldictatorship”.

“Through[Hollywood’s films], [we are inoculated] with messages thatdon’t belong to our traditions, rather they weaken our culture andour morality” said Chavez at the inauguration,according to the Venezuelan daily Ultimas Noticias. Chavezalso accused Hollywood of portraying Latin Americans as violentcriminals, thieves and drug traffickers and describedthe studio complex as a new weapon in Venezuela’s "culturalartillery" against U.S. cultural domination.

The Film Villa Foundation,situated in Guarenas, near Caracas, received an initial Ministry ofCulture investment of over $8.3 million, less than a tenth the amountspent on the average Hollywood movie.

The firstphase of the complex includes areas for production andpost-production equipped with the latest technology, according toVenezuela’s Minister of Culture, Francisco Sesto, who also attendedthe inauguration.

Sesto said that thegovernment hoped the complex would provide a platform for theproduction of Venezuelan films and the purchase of independent filmsfrom abroad, including the United States. On average the Venezuelanfilm industry produces one film every four years, according togovernment figures.

AngelPalacios, an award-winning Venezuelan independent film maker,, “During many years cinema production waslimited to those people who had lots of money or the fortune to studyabroad. In my opinion the creation of the Film Villa Foundation is agreat step forward in the democratization of cinema production herein Venezuela.”

Sestoalso announced that this year the government will inaugurate onehundred community halls for projecting digital videos. In November2005, a new cinema law committed government funds to the developmentof the Venezuelan film industry.

In a related initiative,last year the Venezuelan government provided majority funding forTelesur, a Spanish-language television channel launched to challenge news coverage provided by major corporate networks and to promoteLatin American integration.