Hugo, Boss of Cinemaville
Mark Margolis has a great piece in Newsweek on La Villa del Cine, or Cinemaville, “the headquarters for Hugo Chávez’s latest campaign in the struggle for Latin America’s hearts and minds: a state-owned film studio that’s the Venezuelan strongman’s answer to what he denounces as the ‘tyranny’ of Hollywood.”
Chavez is not the first authoritarian leader with celluloid dreams, as an accompanying photo essay reminds us, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have celebrities like Sean Penn and Oliver Stone (whose latest doc, South of the Border, is a portrait of Chavez) cheering you on.
Mussolini, after all, built the Cinecittà studio. What will Hugowood’s legacy be? Margolis is sceptical, pointing out that most of the producers, directors, and creative talent were recruited from telenovelas, and are now making Bollywood-length features with revolutionary themes. (The studio’s official slogan–which is also the title of Margolis’s feature–is “Lights! Camera! Revolution!”) Not a great combination. Still, there’s a lot to chew on here, especially in light of my last post on Mozambican cinema of the late ’70s.