Venezuelan Films

26th September 2007 by Maura McHugh

The Associated Press reports that last year President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela established a state-run film studio, called Cinema Villa, to create a new era of local cinema.

The first film is about a controversial subject: Luis Posada Carriles, the former CIA operative who allegedly masterminded a jetliner bombing and attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro. The director, Eduardo Barberena, claims he did not get any pressure from the Chavaz government to tell the story in a particular way.

Barberena, who has mostly made TV commercials, sees Cinema Villa as a chance for Venezuela to expand a tiny movie industry — which has made only a few internationally known movies, such as “El Pez que Fuma” (The Smoking Fish) in 1977 and “Secuestro Express” (Express Kidnapping) in 2005.

Three dozen feature films, documentaries and TV programs are now in production at the center, according to Culture Minister Francisco Sesto. They include “Imagining Revolution,” about the development of Chavez’s socialist movement, and “Venezuela Petroleum Company,” about corporate exploitation.

The new film center is both financed and controlled by the government, similar to how Cuba runs its Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry. Scripts are selected by a committee that includes Venezuela’s culture minister, who reports directly to Chavez.

This initiative by Chavaz is drawing fire for being propagandist from some quarters who suspect that the art will come second to the message. The audience will have its chance to judge once the films are released.

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