South of the Border
Credit: IMDB

In 2010, described the relationship between Oliver Stone and president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez as a love story when the later attended the premiere of Stone's South of the Border in Venice. In this production Oliver Stone accuses the United States mainstream news media of deforming instead of transmitting the news.

The award-winning producer of movies like Platoon is well-known for taking on controversial subjects.  This time he wanted to get the news from the South horse’s mouth.  So he headed on an expedition to South America, interviewed several presidents and recorded them in the production entitled South of the Border.

If Oliver Stone is right the mainstream media will portray him as a leftist.  At least started off as portraying him a love bird.  How was he described when he produced Platoon?

A brief look on Oliver Stone

Writer, producer and director Oliver Stone was born in September 15, 1946 in New York City.  In 1966, to prove his father he was a real man, he dropped out of Yale to serve in the Vietnam War, where he taught English in Saigon.

He served in Vietnam for six months, “Vietnam completely deadened me and sickened me” and, upon his return, he soon joined the Army while finding a publisher for his novel, A Child’s Night Dream, first released in 1997.

His gruesome experiences from Vietnam finally paid off when he produced Platoon and Born in The Fourth of July both based on personal and his wartime buddies' experiences.

How Did the Media Portrayed Him Then?

According to most media Oliver Stone was by far “cinema’s premier agent provocateur since the 1970s”. 

The director has a clear purpose for his films: “One of the joys of going to the movies was that it was trashy, and we should never lose that”.  In 1994, his movie Natural Born Killers (Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones and Juliette Lewis) highlighted this statement.

The media called it quits.  The critics responded with “treading uncomfortably close” and “brain dead”.  The New York Times called it “extremely controversial”, and with good reason:  This film blatantly attacked “media obsession with celebrity making and satirizes a sensationalistic, celebrity obsessed society”.  If the movie wasn’t bloody enough, Quentin Tarantino wrote it.

Natural Born Killers not only earned some Globe nominations but a lawsuit.  In 1995, a young couple blamed Oliver Stone for initiating a violent crime spree inspired by this production.  They insisted that, because they watched this movie so many times they felt like killing someone, so they did.  The judge dismissed this case. Time Warner described it as a victory for freedom of expression.

What will Oliver Stone prompt now with South of The Border?  This is a documentary that contradicts United States media claims on South America’s leaders as dictators of a quasi hitlerian nature.

Listening to What the South Has to Say

By 2009, Oliver Stone set on a quest (like he did with his father) to prove the media wrong once and for all.  He set interviews with Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela; Evo Morales, president of Bolivia; Lula da Silva, president of Brazil; Christina and Néstor Kirchner, president and former president of Argentina; Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay; Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador; and Raúl Castro, president of Cuba.

He had Hugo Chavez ride a small bike.  He chatted with the brilliant Christina Kirchner.  He asked for facts and figures, and he asked for personal information.

The 78 minutes documentary premiered in 2009 at the Venice Film Festival.  Hugo Chavez attended the event. minimized the friendship among them as a love affair. The critics went more after Hugo Chavez than any of the other leaders.  The movie also devotes more time to him.

The New York Times described the movie as shallow and sketchy. Others go as far as saying the film did not explore significant historical aspects and background of Venezuela to portray a more realistic image of Hugo Chavez or the South Americans government leaders in general. 

Just wondering if they are referring to the same documentary.

The documentary South of the Border begins with a news clip of a TV reporter accusing Hugo Chávez of using cocoa leaves.  No, is not a typo.  She said cocoa, she meant coca. What a blooper. Could risk ruining the rest of the production anticipating that most will rely, yet again, on the so trusted media, and pass on the movie instead of bypassing the middle man like Oliver did.  See the documentary for yourself and get to your own conclusions.

Your Own Conclusions

In the meantime, South of the Border raises questions on where does the real war is taking place.  Is it in the field, in the AOR, or right here right now, as one is trying to influence another?

It is a media battle where the main victim is the misinformed viewer whose best hope in honest reporting is in people like Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.  

South of the Border portrays the effort of their leaders in making it within their territories.  During each interview held in the homes or the offices in each country, these executives insisted in their focus on consolidating and securing their land.  None of them spoke about invading or taking over or helping out anybody else’s democracy or government.

The United States media portrays our interventions as help.  They refer to them as unwanted visitors.  The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, remembered during his interview how president Obama asked him to consider leaving the U.S. military bases in Ecuador.  Correa is very fond of the United States (he earned his PhD in the University of Illinois) and gave this answer to his counterpart: “I have no problem that you keep the military bases here, only with one condition: That you allow me to have a military base in Florida”.

Then Correa further explained: “You have to understand the United States have kept military bases in Ecuador rent free, just because. It's enough”.

The president of Brazil related how he paid off his debt with the International Monetary Fund.  Brazil has 14% of the world’s renewable fresh water and a Gross Domestic Product of over two trillion dollars. These are just excerpts from the documentary.  

Oftentimes the best way to know how the weather will be is by looking out the window. 

Is about time we do.