Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stone Is Rocking the Boat

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stone Is Rocking the Boat

Article excerpt

Byline: Shereen Low

EVER since he tackled subjects like the Vietnam war and the assassination of President Kennedy in the '80s and '90s, Oliver Stone has never been afraid of controversy.

For his latest documentary film SOUTH OF THE BORDER, the legendary film-maker is more than happy to be talked about.

Featuring interviews with seven presidents in South America and Cuba - including Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez who, according to Stone, has been "99% demonised" by the US media - the movie is Stone's bid to "challenge mainstream opinions" about the leaders and their policies.

"When it comes to South America, we hear negative things about these people, especially Chavez," he says.

"I went down there because I was curious, and I didn't really want to get involved because I knew it was going to be a hornet's nest.

"The film grew naturally. I went down and saw Hugo and he said, 'Don't believe what I'm saying about what's going down here, check it out for yourself'. And he arranged for me to travel and meet these presidents," he explains.

New Yorker Stone also sat down with Bolivian president Evo Morales, Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina and Nestor Kirchner (Argentina), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador) and Raul Castro (Cuba).

Stone, who has made three films about Central and South America, first met Chavez in 2007 during a hostage negotiation on the border and an unlikely friendship grew.

"The man I met was not the man I'd read and heard about in the US media. He is always called a dictator even though he's been democratically elected twice. He's very popular with the majority in his country," he asserts.

"For the last 10 years, I think we've been asleep in the West," says the 63-year-old. "We haven't really known there's been a social transformation in these regions. …

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