South of the Border (4 stars)

South of the Border

(15) 77min

When Oliver Stone made a documentary for HBO about Fidel Castro, his American paymasters accused him of going too soft on the Cuban President and ordered him to go and try again. This time Stone stands firm, doesn’t even entertain the idea that he is being too soft on his new subject Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and spends as much time as possible belittling the American media (including using supporting footage of polemicist Michael Moore) as he does examining why the Venezuelan President has replaced the now retired Castro as the most hated left-winger in America.

Stone posits that Chávez is the cog that started a political wheel proving that socialism rather than capitalism is the way forward when it comes to improving standard of living. With remarkable fleet of foot, Stone ventures through seven countries including Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil that he feels have benefited from forming a united socialist front. By highlighting that most western media do not support the view he’s espousing, Stone cleverly forms a ready-made excuse as to why his documentary concentrates on positive messages from these countries. As such Stone achieves his goal of challenging the orthodoxy on Chávez and socialism in an engrossing and entertaining manner.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 30 Jul.

South of the Border

  • 4 stars
  • 2009
  • USA
  • 1h 17min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Oliver Stone
  • Written by: Tariq Ali, Mark Weisbrot

In his documentary about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Stone travels through seven countries he thinks have benefited from a united socialist front, challenging the orthodoxy on Chavez in an engrossing and entertaining manner.