By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Who is this monster, the United States’ worst enemy in South America, who is worse than Fidel Castro and Osama bin Laden? The who supports all terrorists and drug traffickers in the world, from Al Qaeda to Hamas, who promotes hate against the wealthy, and who can also count on enough popular support to win all the elections?
With questions such as these begins the documentary “South of the Border” by the prominent American filmmaker Oliver Stone. The film is about the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chávez, to be presented on Sunday September 6, to the press at the Venice Film Festival. According to reports, the film includes testimony about the personality and career of the charismatic Venezuelan leader by Latin American presidents, Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, and Raúl Castro of Cuba.
The announcement of the completion of this film project coincided with the failure of a campaign funded by the Colombian oligarchy, supported by groups of the wealthy Venezuelan opposition, and the U.S. It was orchestrated under the slogan “No more Chavez.” The campaign sought to organize simultaneous marches on 4 September 2009 in ninety cities worldwide, “to protest the insults against Colombia which were made by the Venezuelan leader.”
According to press reports, the event was convened, by “a group of young Colombian entrepreneurs” who had predicted the event would be attended by great numbers of people, in major cities worldwide however, it only managed to attract small crowds using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter on the Internet.
The movement, considered, by Venezuelan-American lawyer, writer and journalist Eva Golinger, to be “a call for assassination, hatred and destabilization” failed when it only brought together groups of a few hundred people in a number of cities – much smaller numbers than the projected. “They failed and were made to appear ridiculous with the demonstrations they called against Chavez for Friday and Saturday,” said the president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Cilia Flores.
Organizers affirmed, without giving specific numbers, that they were successful in carrying out rallies in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Sydney, Brussels, Hamburg, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Tegucigalpa, several cities in Venezuela, as well as thirty locations in Colombia.
The most popular of these was, without a doubt, the rally that was “called” in Tegucigalpa, by the military government that took power by military coup on July 1 and which, removed the constitutional President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya. The insurgents reported that about two thousand people participated in an event led by Roberto Micheletti, the de facto head of state.
In Bogota, several groups marched from the northern suburbs of the city, areas that have high concentrations of the upper class, to the historic center. In the downtown area of Bogotá, and in other areas, the anti-Venezuela protests were rejected by grassroots groups with whom they exchanged shouts and at times, even blows.
Popular Protesters came out against President Álvaro Uribe’s proposal to make changes in current law in order to run for re-election again, and also, in opposition to Uribe’s military pact with the U.S. government. Which, according to the official version, has as its aim to put Colombian military facilities at the service of U.S. operations against drug trafficking in the region. For all the other South American leaders – primarily Chavez, this action represents the surrender of Columbia to U.S. military occupation and poses a threat to the independence of Latin America nations.
In Caracas, popular and opposition groups gathered at a safe distance from each other in order to avoid confrontation, and to express, respectively, rejection and support for President Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution. The demonstrations were preceded by appeals to keep the marches peaceful.
In the demonstration against Chavez, where a few hundred opponents chanted “No more Chavez,” the counterrevolutionary slogan launched from Bogota, the metropolitan mayor Antonio Ledezma, of the opposition, demanded freedom of expression in an act that, paradoxically, was being protected by authorities and broadcast by several radio stations and local television stations. There was also criticism of a law passed by parliament that expands educational options to low-income sectors.
On the side of Chavez supporters, thousands of citizens dressed in red, the color of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and marched in support of the Bolivarian leader, while at the same time other hundreds of marches in support of Chavez were taking place in inland towns. Diosdado Cabello, a leader of PSUV reported in Caracas that the Venezuelan opposition maintains its plan of assassination because of the inability to defeat Chavez at the polls in democratic processes.
By telephone, from Tehran, Iran, where he was on an official visit, Hugo Chávez, the evil defender of the humble, the enemy of the rich and of American hegemony on the continent, ratified the Venezuelan peoples commitment demonstrated in their mass rally against the foreign ministry in Caracas, by stating, “homeland, freedom and socialism.”
By Rolando Perez Betancourt
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
For several days now, the international press that covers show business and their scandals was making a lot of fuss over millionaire Paris Hilton going to Europe to “meet” soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, best man in the courts today.
Would they begin an affair? Can the Portuguese escape the seduction of this romance collector? These were some of the expectations around the young star, who was recently acquired by the Real Madrid at an unpronounceable price, and the so called blond of gold. Her merits list is larger, more because she comes from a rich family and for the scandals she never stops creating, than for her performances as actress, model and singer.
Everything seems to indicate that the boy saw her for some minutes, smiled courteously and continued on his way to training. The tall queen of the media, slighted, declared that he had looked “somewhat feminine.”
Soon after, Cristiano Ronaldo was again in the spotlight, not because he is a sports star, but for kicking the car of a paparazzo that was following him on the streets of Lisbon. The soccer star explained in a press release that up to that moment, he had put up with weeks of harassment by sheer self control. But, the image hunter had not taken into consideration that his victim was traveling with his mother. And, one doesn’t disrespect someone’s mother! Therefore, if such a situation repeated itself, he would probably react in the same way.
The almost coincidental deaths of Michael Jackson and actress Farrah Fawcett have put the topic of the paparazzi again on the table. And in passing, the fatal accident of princess Diana of Wales while escaping from a group of them in Paris is also remembered.
Jackson was constantly harassed in his intimacy and Farah Fawcett, who was a cancer victim, left a bitter testimony, days before her demise, accusing the press and the paparazzi of being decisive in the deterioration of her health. They took photographs of her in a wheelchair showing her fragile and haggard. “I asked them to please leave me to fight my illness alone, but they never heard me, they harassed me, they wanted to be beside me every step till the end and it is already known that cancer feeds on stress.”
Technological development –digital cameras and Internet for quick transmission—have made paparazzi proliferate and the competition is ferocious. Some of them are employed and some are independent. And, sometimes they are the ones who pay the so called “stars brokers”, who detect what public figures are doing and locate them. Then the paparazzi speed off by motorcycle, car or airplane to wherever they are. Their objectives are very specific following a unique and unalterable concept: all embarrassing situations are profitable! It doesn’t matter if they are infidelities, evident or imagined, accidents, carelessness of a physical nature (poor Britney Spears and others), being nude in the high seas or in restricted areas, and, most of all, sexual scenes.
In extreme situations, when the intrusion is of such proportion that it defies human understanding, almost all reproaches are usually made to the paparazzi and people forget that –although guilty– they are part of a mechanism that starts higher up. It begins where the owners of big businesses, generally printed media competing with each other, print just about anything “weird” about show business stars.
These are stars that they frequently help manufacture and then go after them and destroy them. All this on behalf of a reader –equally manufactured–that, without realizing he is being manipulated, pays to see what lies behind the curtains of the famous.
And of from there, the paparazzi take their share (of the blame).
By José Luis Estrada Betancourt
May 26, 2009 – 00:45:44 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Even Hollywood shoots with caution given the undeniable problems to get loans, the fear of recession and the little confidence in Wall Street.
Such a highly topical matter as the world economic and financial crisis, whose effects we feel in life’s every sphere, has not gone unnoticed by the seekers of ideas for possible plots that might become box-office hits. In fact, the sexagenarian Michael Douglas will once again be directed by the renowned Oliver Stone to deliver a sequel to Wall Street (1987), where he made an Oscar-winning portrayal of Gordon Gekko, a powerful, roguish tycoon who became filthily rich as a stock market speculator.
Wall Street 2 unfolds against the ideal backdrop of today’s disturbing crisis, which will provide the context to throw light on the same world of greed and corruption behind the upcoming The international, starring Clive Owen (as Louis Salinger) and Naomi Watts (as Eleanor Whitman).
Based on screenwriter Eric Warren Singer’s script, the film follows an Interpol agent and an assistant district attorney determined to disclose the shady deals of a very powerful bank turned expert on illegal activities to fund terrorism and war.
Director Tom Tykwer speaks:”If the story seems to be ripped from the headlines, it’s because the headlines have shown that the banks control all aspects of our lives. The mess we’re in now started when the banks took advantage of people and encouraged them to live beyond their means ‘.
A similar concern has led the controversial and always unerring director of Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko to revisit a subject he had already brought to the fore in 1989 with Roger and Me, when he dug for the reasons why General Motors closed several auto plants in Michigan. A decade later, Michael Moore strikes again, but unlike his fellow filmmakers, with a documentary film, his favorite genre.
As usual, Moore decided to make inquiries into the root cause of the economic chaos lashing against our planet. To that end, he used his webpage to urge a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know», and adding: «Be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history”.
To the author of Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine (2003) it is plain that “the wealthy, at some point, decided they didn’t have enough wealth. They wanted more… a lot more. So they systematically set about to fleece the American people out of their hard-earned money. Now, why would they do this? That’s what I seek to discover in this movie”, he explains.
As we wait for the famous filmmaker to delve into this issue, the economic and financial crisis keeps lashing at the entertainment industry, and of course, cinema is not an exception.
A most noticeable effect of this crisis, at least to those who are all gung-ho on whatever celebrity walks down the red carpet, is the lack of glamour in the world’s greatest movie festivals, an extravaganza the average mortal won’t give two hoots about but certainly a sign of how drastic the limitations have got to be, even in Cannes, one of the industry’s two biggest markets. Credit lines have decreased so much worldwide that smaller industries are no longer able to attract a sizeable audience –as it happens to Cuba and most independent film companies– to these contests, also affected by a reduction in the number of sales contract signed for the movies, TV, DVD and their by-products. Since the to-ing and fro-ing of 35-mm film has become so expensive, from now on it will be harder for filmmakers and actors to attend the premieres of their motion pictures, and more DVD releases are likely to hit the stalls.
Things have reached the point that corporate Hollywood, with plenty of stakes in various companies, have turned more conservative and are even having second thoughts about paying the hair-raising salaries their stars pocket –like the 20 million dollars Jim Carrey made for The Cable Guy, in the end a real turnoff– or keeping the affluent lifestyle they demand while on set, say, private jets close at hand.
Now the studios are “walking a tightrope”, what with the undeniable difficulties to get credits, the fear of recession, and the little confidence they have in Wall Street, which explains why more than a few finished movies ended up on ice until the thunderclouds get away –including eagerly awaited titles like the latest Harry Potter installment– often because of a budget too low to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for marketing and advertising campaigns alone.
The DVD divisions seem to be the only ones expected to “gain” something from this mess, because people choose to watch films at home rather than pay for a theater ticket –as an average, 3.50 dollars in Mexico, and over 4.50 in Brazil and Chile. Facts: audience ratings fell 10% in Asia, 14% in the United States, and 1% in the European Union (figures for the end of 2008 have it that more than 9 million people stopped going to the movies compared with the previous year, which meant the closure of 39 theaters).
Nonetheless, filmmakers such as the Argentinean Luis Puenzo (The Official Story, Old Gringo) believe the economic crisis “may blaze a trail that the less powerful countries can use to disseminate their motion pictures more. Despite the hard times worldwide cinema is going through, shaking the system a little bit always leaves gaps through which we can slip, used as we are to dealing with lower costs of production than the big Hollywood companies. My generation was born in mid-crisis and is trained to make films regardless of the financial ups and downs”.
Life has proved Puenzo right up to a point, but the crux of the matter remains that the «peripheral» industries can truly make movies, taking into account that the studios have been compelled to make budget cuts and put off some productions for next year, as they have less money for distribution.
For instance, that’s the case of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), which was forced to postpone the shooting of feature films that were almost ready to begin after two years of a steady pace that gave us movies like Los dioses rotos, El cuerno de la abundancia, Omertá, Ciudad en rojo and La anunciación.
Some documentary and full-length films are almost ready to hit the big screen, namely Esteban Insausti’s Larga distancia; El ojo del canario, Fernando Pérez’s movie about our Apostle José Martí; Juan Carlos Cremata’s El premio flaco; and Daniel Díaz’s Lisanka. Yet, we’ll have to slow down.
For the time being, the moviegoers’ greatest hope is that only those films supported by good scripts will get the go-ahead and the budget they need, at least while the crisis still goes on.
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, where it was a great success
Hector Medina stars in the film
Film “Viva”, set in Cuba and directed by Paddy Breathnatch, was chosen by the Irish Academy of Film and Television to represent the country at the Oscar Academy Awards as best foreign language film.
In this regard, Aine Moriarty, President of the Irish Academy, said: “The Irish Academy is delighted that this wonderful film by Paddy Breathnach and Mark O’Halloran represents Ireland at the Oscars. It reflects the creativity and diversity of points of view of this Irish team while shooting a Cuban story that is so tender, intriguing and visually captivating.”
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, where it was a success. In October, it will be presented at the Busan Festival.
Written by Mark O’Halloran, the drama follows Jesus, an 18 year old Cuban who is lost and trying to find his true identity. Unsure of himself or his future direction, he works at a drag queen club in Havana. There he pursues his dreams of becoming an actor, while earning money through prostitution.
He finds his oasis at home listening to the albums his mother and grandmother left him; or even watching the boxers who train next door. Then, something comes to his life that will challenge his direction and his freedom: his missing father, a famous boxer, who returns after spending 15 years in prison for killing a person in a street fight when Jesus was a child.
The cast includes Hector Medina, Jorge Perugorría and Luis Alberto Garcia.