Hey folks, Harry here... Vern here caught THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED up at the Seattle International Film Festival and... well it's turned him into an obvious Commie Pinko Anti-American Burn-In-Hell Lily-livered Cock-Sucker, like it did me back when I saw it. So those of you that like to belittle someone with information that you haven't seen, go right ahead. The problem is this, after you see this documentary, it's really hard to trust anything any media tells you... Including this site. More than anything, political parties and affiliations aside... This is all about questioning authority and looking for more information, even from this documentary. Stories are never as cut and dried as a 2 hour Documentary, but at the same time... the complications of what happened after the events in this film aside, what DID HAPPEN and WAS CAPTURED here is an astonishing and powerful work that all should see.
It's your personal buddy Vern here reporting from lovely Seattle where I plan to actually get off my ass and see some movies at the film festival this year. I'm gonna have to miss the cartoon one where it's the matrix but I did get a ticket for the mummy one where Bruce Campbell is Elvis. Also I was wondering man were you serious about wanting to see werewolves in the Matrix? That one threw me off there bud but there's another movie that me and you see more like eye-to-eye on and that's THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED.
That's the real reason I'm Writing Harry because I want to thank you for your review of this movie. I never would've heard of it but you made it sound good so I made sure to see it at SIFF here. And MAN you were not exaggerating. This is the best movie I've seen in a real long time and with the audience cheering and hissing and gasping like a bunch of star wars nerds at a midnight show I think it has a good chance at the best documentary award. When it was over I looked back at the crowd and people looked absolutely elated like they couldn't even believe they really just saw that. One woman loudly declared "That was in-credible!" and it was kind of like she was an official spokesperson speaking fon behalf of everybody there.
If you missed Harry's review or you forgot about it, this is the incredible Irish-made documentary about the failed coup in Venezuala last year. Maybe that doesn't sound that interesting to you because you're picturing a typical historical documentary pieced together from file footage and talking head interviews. Not like the band talking heads. Well, you know what I mean. What makes this picture amazing is that there's hardly any of that - most of the footage comes from dumb luck, a film crew that just happened to be standing right over the X on the map of Venezuelan history. It's like when the Maysles brothers were doing a documentary about the Rolling Stones and it just happened that they were filming at Altamont, only this is on a grander scale. Here's a film crew doing a documentary about this fascinating, controversial figure, the democratically elected but controversial Hugo Chavez, and then they're RIGHT THERE when some rogue generals come into the palace, demand his resignation, then abduct him when he refuses. (Actually they're right outside of the doors where this confrontation happens, so you get to watch the terrified faces of everybody else in the palace, and then you see Chavez paraded away shouting "Never give up!" to his faithful cabinet ministers.)
No matter what you take out of this movie, I can't imagine anybody not being captivated by it. Even if you think what I'm about to say is a load of hogwash I still think you should see this movie because such an inside view of an administration and a people peacefully suppressing a military coup sure is great drama. But it's made even more powerful by what it tells you about the dangers of a corrupt media and the importance of democracies adhering to their Constitutions. I can't imagine a more appropriate movie for us Americans to watch right now when on June 2nd the FCC is planning to throw out what measly regulations we still have to protect the media from being owned by a handful of corporations. It's hard to imagine what pipe FCC head honcho Michael Powell is smoking when he tells us with a straight face that the media would be improved if it was owned by EVEN FEWER companies. Yeah, that's the whole problem with Clear Channel is that they don't own *enough* radio stations. Since Michael's dad Colin has a cameo in THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED, maybe we could get Michael to attend a screening and then tell us what a good idea it is to let a few corporations control the news. No, seriously, it'll work better for us.
If the coup hadn't happened, I bet it still would've been an interesting documentary. We are told that Chavez won his election by a landslide, but we are also told that when he was younger he went to jail for leading a coup of his own. I doubt he's a saint, despite his great speech against the bombing of Afghanistan, and I don't trust anybody that has their own state run tv channel. I'm even suspicious of the Disney Channel when I'm in Disneyland. On the other hand the movie makes you wish we had a leader with some of Chavez's qualities. We have a president who very rarely answers questions from the press, and when he does he usually just blows unrelated cliches about freedom up their asses (or worse, remember that scripted press conference? What the hell was that?) Chavez took the exact opposite route of every week going into a little public access style room and going on TV and radio to take phone calls from the public like a talk radio host. The movie doesn't show enough of this to know if he bullshits them or not but it sure is an interesting approach and explains why, if the depiction in the movie is accurate, he seems to divide the country along class lines. I'm sure the real story is less cut and dry but from what you see in the movie his supporters are the poor who feel they are finally getting a piece of democracy and his opposition are the rich who are angry that their oil money has to be shared with the rest of the country now.
Because of the coup, though, they sort of leave the details of Chavez's politics out and focus on the events at hand. This is a stroke of genius because then you aren't able to spend your time debating about who is right about oil or this or that and instead look at the obviously wrong way the opposition chose to deal with these disagreements. At the end Chavez tells his opposition fine, oppose me, I wish I could change your mind but the important thing is you have to follow the Constitution. This is a powerful warning for our country because even if there is someone so naive as to believe that Ashcroft, Poindexter and friends really do have good intentions for our country, it would still be a mistake for them to chew up the constitution, spit it out, ram it up their ass, shit it out, mix it with drano and force america to eat it. (a little out of control with the ass metaphor there Harry, sorry.)
And to anyone else worried about the direction american TV news is going (I call it postjournalism), this is extra horrifying. The clips they show of the private news channels make Fox, MSNBC and CNN look almost like real news. They have anchors calling Chavez insane, saying that he has a sexual fixation on Fidel Castro and even telling their viewers to get to the streets and protest. It's hard to imagine the media having it in for a president like that here. I know alot of people were out to smear Clinton and other presidents but they didn't take it that far because for the most part the media bias here is for the status quo and isn't going to ask for a revolution. (I guess maybe they would if we really had the liberal media that we always hear about from the very much nonÃ±liberal people in the media.) But you watch them lie and distort what's going on (claiming that Chavez resigned, for example, or not reporting it at all when the administration takes back control of the palace and the vice president is sworn in as temporary president). It's so frustrating but it's a familiar feeling. I don't know if you've ever been right there where something was going down and then went home and saw it portrayed completely different on the news. Last time I saw that was when riot police closed off a street, trapped anti-war protesters onto it, told them to stay on the sidewalk then beat and arrested them for blocking pedestrian traffic. That's what happened when I watched it in person, but when I watched it on tv what happened was protesters blocked traffic and got unruly so the police were forced to arrest them. (it's the matrix vs. being unplugged to put it in the ain't it cool news type language). Watching this gives you that kind of helpless, outraged feeling.
And you can't help but wonder what would happen if they tried to do this here. Some things might go down the same. It's scary to see that there can be a military coup and the next day the police are beating and killing people to support the new government. Sadly I have no doubt that would happen here too and our cops wear armor and have military style weapons and training. It would be ugly.
But hey ultimately the people learn the truth and they gather in the streets and they shut this shit down like the ewoks did the space guys with the giant robotic chickens. So it's very empowering and it reminds you of the power of real democracy. Like I said the audience was REALLY into the movie and there were many points where it broke into a deafening roar of applause, especially when a member of the palace guard, right before executing a plan to get the palace back, held his fist up for the crowd of Chavez supporters surrounding the palace. Just like our soldiers these are real young guys caught in the middle, but they're staring in the faces of a crowd of people supporting democracy and they realize what they have to do.
That was incredible but for me the best scene was when the leaders of the would-be coup were captured and confronted by the attorney general. We'd just seen them in the palace cheering wildly at their own decision to dissolve the congress and supreme court and fire the attorney general and even the ombudsman, all in the name of democracy. Now the tables have turned and they're sitting on mattresses on the floor in a plain white detention room looking absolutely horrified. The SIFF audience cheered as the attorney general walked in, anticipating some badass declaration of how much trouble these fucks are in. But there was stunned silence when instead he said, "As the attorney general, and in the presence of the ombudsman... I am here to inform you that you will retain your rights as citizens."
And the looks on their faces. I mean how can you get better than that?
Screening with THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED was a short called SCENES FROM THE ENDLESS WAR. This was sort of an experimental piece divided into about 20 "scenes" all relating to post September 11th war fever in the US. Most of the scenes are silly commentaries made by manipulating cable news footage, adding weird slow motion effects and fake news scrolls (which were mostly too obvious to be funny). A couple of these type of scenes were very effective though, like the one with the continuous loop of a militaristic animated Fox logo and especially the one where Bush's state of the union address is accompanied by a terror alert chart activated by the sound of his voice.
If you dumped out all this stuff though you'd get to the real meat of the short which is the handful of scenes that were actual documentary footage. The filmatists talked to september 11th family members about the idea of retribution, watched tourists get their pictures taken at Ground Zero and soldiers holding open houses where they let little kids hold rifles and pretend to shoot them. Maybe the best scene was the old ladies talking to a slow-talking navyman who seems like he could just as easily be selling them hamburgers at McDonalds. He points out a sharpshooter he says will shoot dead any terrorist that tries to do something and the ladies are shocked to realize that "he looks like a little kid."
This short definitely has some great moments and could be molded into something really powerful, but it is completely overshadowed by THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED which I think is destined to be a classic.
If you are in Seattle, don't miss the second screening which is Tuesday the 27th at 4:45 at the Broadway Performance Hall. For more information there is a web sight at ChavezTheFilm.Com
p.s. speaking of the revolution not being televised, where is Gil Scott Heron when we need him? Buddy you gotta make a new album. Do it for america. thanks gil.
p.p.s. Michael Moore had nothing to do with this one so there is no need for the right wing newsies to go apeshit in the talkbacks. let's keep it cool fellas