Eyes Wide Open Film Series, Part III The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
January 26, 2006
Exxon-Mobil and Shell “seat and unseat kings and presidents, finance palace plots and coup d'etats, have innumerable generals, ministers and James Bonds at their command... make decisions about peace or war in every field and every language" writes Uruguayan essayist and historian Eduardo Galeano in his Open Veins of Latin America.
The award-winning documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, shot on-the-spot in Venezuela by two Irish filmmakers during an attempted coup there three years ago, shows how such attempts at regime change are carried out. But this time – and here's the twist – the attempt failed. (See the handout distributed at the Eyes Wide Open Film Series)
First a little background: in 1998 Chávez, against all odds, won the elections and became the leader of the world's fourth largest producer of oil. His first act was to fire the heads of the state petroleum industry, in cahoots with the multinational oil firms; make the state a major producer of petroleum products, not just an exporter of crude oil; and redistribute the profits in social projects starting with the poorest parts of the country. Enough to chill the spine of any Exxon stockholder.
Add to it the flamboyant style of the man, one that irritates the State Department no end. As J. Hobermanìs in the Village Voice describes him: “With his caudillo strut, Chavez is the hero of rallies where a thousand Che posters bloom, delivering anti-globalist rhetoric with a definite Cuban backbeat.”
In his one-man war against the oil interests, which control five of the nation's six TV channels, “Chavez nearly fell victim to Bushie petropolitik”, Hobermanìs goes on to write. “Shades of September 11 — September 11, 1973, that is—when the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of Salvador Allende. Barely considered newsworthy in the Belly of the Beast, the Chávez story is instead a gripping narrative that played out on TV and in the streets, as well as inside the presidential palace, where the filmmakers Bartley and O'Briain, working on a Chávez profile, happened to be at the time.”
Their documentary, in addition to being a sensational scoop, “does an excellent job in deconstructing the Venezuelan TV news footage of blood, chaos, and rival crowds. As befits its title, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is nearly a textbook on media manipulation.”
In the end, it would appear that Chavez' followers were able to thwart the CIA-sponsored and media-led golpe thanks to the loyalty of the palace guards and the heroism of the Venezuelan people, who thronged the streets around the Presidential palace making it difficult to attack. Nonetheless, it is a fact that throngs have been massacred in similar circumstances on many other occasions. So one still wonders -- as Hobermanìs concludes his article -- “how in fact did Hugo Chávez manage to escape the Matrix and how long can he keep on doing it?”
The surprisingly large crowd that turned out to see the film at the Linux Club on January 26th, seemed gripped by the history-in-the-making scenes and contributed to a very lively discussion afterward.
Details of the film: The Revolution will not be Televised (Production: Ireland, 2003); screenplay, directing, photography by Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain; editing by Angel Hernandez Zoido. Length: 74 minutes. Available in DVD In Spanish with English subtitles for $25 ($5 for the unwaged) from: Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, email@example.com, P.O.Box 2917, Wolverhampton WV2 2YA, Britain Tel: +44 (0) 121 288 1388. Produced by: Power Pictures 2002 Ltd., 4 High Street, Galway, Irland telephone (+353) 91 569707, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim Bartley is a freelance producer and director working mostly in Africa and Latin America, where she directs and films short documentaries for a number of international aid agencies in crisis or conflict situations. Donnacha O'Briain is a freelance filmmaker working in Russia, South East Asia and Australia; he produced and directed the documentary The Seminary, which shows training for priesthood today.
Special thanks to Linux Club for their hospitality.
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