Chavez-Funded Movie Hits Screens

October 13, 2007 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

 President Hugo Chavez is taking on Hollywood with the first major film produced by his government.

The historical saga about Venezuelan independence hero Francisco de Miranda was produced by Venezuela’s new state film studio. At the Thursday night premiere, Chavez called it an effort to counter Hollywood’s global domination.

“There is no revolution if we don’t recover our culture, our own values,” Chavez said. “It’s part of the fight against (U.S.) imperial hegemony.”

“Miranda Regresa,” or “Miranda Returns,” is directed by Luis Alberto Lamata and features Jorge Reyes as the hero who led Venezuela’s independence struggle against Spain before dying in prison in 1816.

American actor Danny Glover, a supporter of Chavez, also plays a minor fictional role as a Haitian who meets Miranda in New York and joins his struggle.

The movie includes vivid battle scenes with cannon fire, and a meticulous wardrobe from the period, though flaws are apparent in details like music that at times drowns out softly spoken dialogue. The audience that joined Chavez and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa at the screening received it with applause.

The film was produced with a budget of $2.3 million by the state-run Cinema Town, which Chavez founded last year. It was shot in Venezuela, Cuba and the Czech Republic.

The studio is producing three dozen other movies, documentaries and TV programs, including a film about Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative who is accused by Venezuela and Cuba of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner.

Critics say that a heavy government hand in filmmaking may put politics before art. But Lamata denied serving political aims, saying “we tried to take an objective view of Miranda” to teach viewers about a historical figure.

He said the movie will be shown at international film festivals.



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