Chavez has a go at filmmaking
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“Miranda regresa” (“Miranda Returns”) is the first major film produced by President Hugo Chavez’s state-run production company. A historical saga, it depicts the life of Francisco de Miranda, leader of Venezuela's independence struggle against Spanish colonialism at the turn of the nineteenth century. Miranda dreamed of creating a republic called Colombia that would have covered a large chunk of South America. Read more...
Written with help from our Observer in Argentina, Johana Kunin.
“Miranda regresa” (“Miranda Returns”) is the first major film produced by President Hugo Chavez’s state-run production company. A historical saga, it depicts the life of Francisco de Miranda, leader of Venezuela's independence struggle against Spanish colonialism at the turn of the nineteenth century. Miranda dreamed of creating a republic called Colombia that would have covered a large chunk of South America.
The motion picture was produced with a budget of 2.3 million dollars by the state-run cinema production company, which Chavez founded in 2006. Over 1,200 extras were hired for the film, shot in Venezuela, Cuba, and The Czech Republic. American actor Danny Glover, a supporter of Chavez, plays a minor part.
The movie’s title, “Miranda Returns”, is the subject of much discussion and interpretation at home. Many wonder whether Chavez is attempting to cast himself as a reincarnation of the Venezuelan hero. The president has depicted the project as an effort to counter Hollywood's global domination, slamming American blockbusters like Superman and Batman as “excrement” and a “source of counter-values”. "There is no revolution if we don't recover our culture, our own values. It is part of the fight against [US] imperial hegemony,” he declared.
The film’s premiere was held in a military fort. Among those present were Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president and a key Chavez ally. The motion picture is screened in 40 mainstream cinemas throughout the country.
"I think it's a good movie"
Juliana Boersner is a social psychologist in Caracas.
'Miranda regresa' was created on the backdrop of efforts to bolster the Venezuelan nation by drawing on the tales of its national heroes. I think it’s a good movie. This brand of historical cinema breaks the mould of stereotypes and depicts history in a new way. It throws new light on figures that had so far been portrayed as old-fashioned national emblems.
Venezuelans are not particularly keen on national productions. Locally-made films seldom draw large crowds. In fact, people are quick to criticise without even seeing the films. This may explain why, prior to this film, there had been no investment in an educational project of this scale. Whatever criticisms it may attract, “Miranda regresa” should at least be praised for highlighting this new commitment on the industry’s part.
This isn’t the first time Chavez supports a film, but never before had the backing of a state-run production company been so manifest. I would imagine the shadow of Chavez may have discouraged a number of people from going to see the film, if only for political reasons.
The state has also established art schools with workshops dedicated to the rehabilitation of traditional cultures. The classic distinction between elitist and traditional culture has been revisited.”
“The movie is part of a government-sponsored trend to revive key characters in the country’s past"
Pablo Abraham is a film critic in Venezuela. He works for the Gran Cine website.
The movie is part of a government-sponsored trend to revive and celebrate key characters and events in the country’s revolutionary past. The state has created a variety of such programmes in other areas, like museums or dance.
Even the film’s director specified that it was a commissioned film. Maybe this is why it hasn’t been a real blockbuster. Its audience so far has reached approximately 140,000, well below producers’ expectations. This figure does not necessarily reflect a flop; but the thing is that the film has been screened in 40 cinemas across the country. This is a privilege that not many national films enjoy.
It's not a bad film. The director is clearly talented and production details have been taken care of. However, the movie sticks to the typical formula of a historical character’s chronological biography, stretching from his youth to his death, with nothing new to offer.”
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Poster of the film