Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oliver Stone Does Hugo Chavez, 500 activists block Port of Oakland

From: Karin Pally


Activists Block Gates at Port of Oakland, prevent Israli Ship Unloading

By David R. Baker:
SF Chronicle: June 21, 2010

*(06-20) 12:35 PDT OAKLAND* -- Hundreds of demonstrators, gathering at the
Port of Oakland before dawn, prevented the unloading of an Israeli cargo

The demonstrators, demanding an end to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip,
picketed at Berth 58, where a ship from Israel's Zim shipping line is
scheduled to dock later today. The day shift of longshoremen agreed not to
cross the picket line.

International pressure to end the Gaza closure has increased since Israeli
commandos stormed a flotilla of ships attempting to run the blockade on May
31, killing nine people. Last week, Israeli officials announced that they
would loosen but not lift the blockade, allowing more goods to enter the
impoverished area.

"Our view is that the state of Israel can not engage in acts of piracy and
kill people on the high seas and still think their cargo can go anywhere in
the world," said Richard Becker, an organizer with ANSWER, one of many peace
and labor groups involved in Sunday's action.

Becker estimated that 600 to 700 people joined the demonstration, many of
them arriving at 5:30 a.m. Oakland police, who estimated the crowd at 500
people, reported no arrests.

The demonstrators want to block the unloading of the Zim ship for a full
day. After convincing the day shift of longshoreman to honor the picket
line, the demonstrators dispersed around 10 a.m., Becker said. The ship is
scheduled to arrive in mid-afternoon, and the demonstrators plan to gather
again around 4:30 p.m. and re-establish their picket line before the evening
shift of longshoremen arrives at 6 p.m.

E-mail David R. Baker at dbaker@sfchronicle.com.


From: Michael W. Hathaway


South of the Border: Oliver Stone Does Chavez

by Prairie Miller
the James Agee Cinema Circle: June 21, 2010

Cuban leader Fidel Castro was interrogated some years ago by the New York
Times, demanding to know why freedom of the press is not allowed in Cuba.
Meaning, of course, beyond buzzwords, the inclusion of pro-capitalist
reporting. To which Fidel's checkmate reply was something like, we'll allow
that to happen when you allow a communist reporter on the staff of the New
York Times.

Now years later, this reality in the more than ever corporate owned US media
is far from a laughing matter, where the lines between who owns big business
and who finances and controls the US media and what constitutes so-called
news, are hopelessly blurred. Not to mention the concurrent pressure on
journalists to self-censor in order to keep their jobs, in particular in the
face of significant newsroom layoffs now with the economic crisis kicking

So where do news investigators seeking the truth find themselves in this
moral and ethical quandary, while detouring around that dubious entity
called freedom of the press? Apparently in nonfiction filmmaking, if a
substantial portion of that impressive body of work lately is any
indication. And most exemplary among those documentaries right now is Oliver
Stone's South Of The Border.

Dismissing corporate media accounts as annoying fiction to say the least,
the multiple Academy Award winning director (Platoon, Born On The Forth Of
July, Midnight Express) and decorated Viet Nam veteran embarks on a road
movie of a very different sort. Serving as narrator, interviewer and
filmmaker, Stone is in search of the real story behind the election of seven
leftist presidents in Latin America, many of them demonized by a suspicious
colluding Washington DC and US media more interested in political domination
and control of foreign natural resources, and who knows how many conflict of
interest personal investments by politicians and media moguls alike.]

Written by eminent UK historian Tariq Ali (who had songs written in his
honor by John Lennon and Mick Jagger) and Mark Weisbrot, a leading
progressive authority on Latin America, South of The Border whether by
design or coincidence, ironically shares its title with the deplorable 1939
western of the same name. Starring Gene Autry and a cast of Mexican
villains, that film approached the notion of the southern border more akin
to the current right wing anti-immigrant surge.

And in a very different 'discovery' of the Americas, Stone introduces the
documentary with a gaggle of cackling imbecilic Fox 'news actors' mockingly
misrepresenting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a cokehead, juxtaposed
with Stone inviting the audience on a journey to find out who Chavez really
is, and where he came from. Including the president driving Stone himself to
the village and the hut made of palm leaves where he was born, along with
the surrounding rural collectivization that has vastly improved the lives of
the campesinos. And his continued efforts to oppose US meddling in the
affairs of his country, who sabotage his government over domination of vital
oil reserves. And attempted interference in his programs that address
terrible conditions of poverty by promoting economic equality, and
curtailing through nationalization the exploitation and enrichment of US
connected corporations.

The history of imperialism then and now is linked in the film in great
detail to its current propaganda arms, both the domestic and Venezuelan
corporate media, while Cuba is seen sending in 10,000 physicians and free
medicine to treat many impoverished Venezuelans who had never seen a doctor.
And in effect, poverty in Venezuela under Chavez has been cut in half.

And though South Of The Border is steeped in detailed information and a vast
corrective history, there are many casual moments of warmth, poignancy and
humor to be had as well. Including Stone bonding with Chavez in an emotional
exchange as two former soldiers in war; chewing coco leaves with Indigenous
Bolivian President Evo Morales (contrary to US media propaganda, a substance
in its organic state no more of a stimulant than coffee); and courageous
challenges to IMF debt servitude by President Christina Kirchner of
Argentina, who also remarks on how for the first time in history the leaders
of the 'new' Latin America look just like the people who elected them. And
in brief but similarly enlightening and euphoric sequences, Stone meets with
the presidents of Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay.

Gritty, grassroots and genuine in spirit, South Of The Border's salt of the
earth scrutiny initiates a reversal of the tide of corrupted US journalism.
And lifts the entire entity out of its debased opportunism, even if on the
big screen rather than the smaller version for US audiences. In a case in
which size matters, in more ways than one.

South Of The Border opens at NYC's Angelika Theater on June 25th, and at
Laemmle's Monica 4Plex 0n July 2nd in Los Angeles.

Cinema Libre Studio has been a leader in the distribution of social issue
and political films that tackle timely issues. More information is online
at: cinemalibrestudio.com andsouthoftheborderdoc.com.

Look for South of the Border: June 25 in NYC (Angelika Film Center), July 2
in Los Angeles (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex and Laemmle's Sunset 5), Pasadena
(Laemmle's Playhouse 7) and Washington DC (AMC Loews Shirlington 7), July 9
in Chicago (Showplace ICON Roosevelt Collection), July 16 in San Francisco
(Sundance Kabuki Cinema), Berkeley (Rialto Cinemas Elmwood) and Palm Springs
(Cinemas Palm D'Or), July 23 in Phoneix (Harkins Valley Art) Dallas (AMC
Grand 24) and Houston (AMC Studio 30), July 30 in Minneapolis (Showplace
ICON at The West End) and Seattle (Regal Meridian 16). More to come soon,
check details at http://southoftheborderdoc.com/in-theatres/,
http://twitter.com/southborderdoc or
* * *
Prairie Miller is a WBAI film critic, and host and executive producer of The
WBAI Arts Magazine. She can be reached at: pmiller@wbai.org.

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