Oliver Stone Confirms Hugo Chavez Biopic in Venezuela
Oliver Stone's documentary The Untold History of the United States
is hitting the very sympathetic market of socialist Venezuela this week, and the director took the opportunity to confirm to President Nicolás Maduro that he is planning a film on the life of Hugo Chavez
"Oliver Stone is preparing a very lovely film about our commander-in-chief Hugo Chávez," Maduro announced last week in an official state event following the director's visit to the troubled state. Maduro, who has himself dabbled in Christmas carol composition if not outright television production like his predecessor, welcomed Stone as he visited the country to promote his latest documentary. Venezuelan state TV described the visit as friendly and Stone as an award-winning director with "good relations with Venezuela," publishing a slideshow and video of the meeting between the director and world leader. Stone was said to spend the evening at the Palace at Miraflores and take a tour of where Chávez spent his last living months.
Major Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reports that the nation's Minister of Communications and Information Delcy Rodríguez confirmed the upcoming film on her Twitter account, and that the government is excited about the project because of Stone's previously "very affable" depiction of Chávez in the documentary South of the Border about the "hostile treatment of then-President George W. Bush" towards Latin America. Rumors had been circulating of the possibility of such a film as Stone's latest existing since last June.
Stone has made no mystery of his admiration for Hugo Chávez, a strongman dictator rivaled only by his successor and responsible for a litany of violations that Human Rights Watch summarizes as "dramatic concentration of power and open disregard for human rights." "I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people," wrote Stone upon announcement of Chávez's death, calling him a "friend." He has also called Chávez a "magnanimous, warm, warm man." In contrast, during promotion of his latest film, he called his native country an "international terror" other nations should keep down.
The scope of the film and other details remain a mystery, as do the potential cast and the language (though Stone has yet to direct a feature film not in English). One actor that would have before last week been a shoo-in for at least a supporting role is actor Sean Penn, who also interacted occasionally with Chávez and had nothing but good words for America's "friend it never knew it had." Perhaps as a sign that his personal loyalty lay with Chávez directly, the award-winning actor just returned from a sovereignty-defying rescue of an American imprisoned in Bolivia without charge for more than two years.
For a closer look at the friendly welcome Maduro gave Oliver Stone in Caracas last week, you can watch Venezuelan State TV's report on their meeting below: