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Revolution Will Not Be Televised, The
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by Collin Souter

"A brilliant, jaw-dropping action thriller...er, I mean documentary"
5 stars

(SCREENED AT THE 2003 CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL) In 1998, the people of Venezuela democratically voted in Hugo Chavez as their President. As the fourth largest export of oil in the world, Venezuela had been ready for a new leader, one who would re-distribute the wealth of a private industry as 80% of the population lived in poverty. The people, for the most part, trusted Chavez. True, he had been friends with Fidel Castro, but what does it say about a leader who holds live television phone-in interviews in which anybody could call and ask him any question they want? Well, there does exist one problem: Who is doing the asking? Why can’t we see them?

The documentary “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” does not put this specific scenario under scrutiny. Rather, it uses television as a way of showing how a biased outlet can cause complete disarray and unrest in a situation and country that does not need any more turmoil than it already has. The movie plays with the audience’s perception of Chavez almost as much as the media outlets that either condemn him or support him. For someone to watch this who has little to no knowledge of Chavez or his politics (which would be me), the movie plays more like an action movie that seems too made-up to be real.

The “Revolution” in the title refers to Chavez’s revolution to bring the people of Venezuela out of a state of poverty. The rich people of Venezuela, of course, hate Chavez’s policies, because it means less money for them. When Chavez announces he plans to bring in his own people to control the oil industry, a massive uprising ensues. The U.S. get scared. Colin Powell and Jesse Helms question Chavez’s motives, for fear he will turn Venezuela into another Cuba. The “private media” outlets of Venezuela demand a protest and an ousting of the President.

Another revolution ensues, this one propagated by the media. The people hear the words “dictatorship” and “another Cuba” when describing Chavez’s policies and take to the streets in protest. The crowd, however, ends up being used by other interested parties who want to take Chavez out of office, via a coup d’etat. Riots break out, bullets fly and the media is there to cover it…and distort it.

Directors Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain went to Venezuela originally to film a documentary about Chavez. They got great interviews with him in which he appears to genuinely have the people’s interests at heart. He talks lovingly and poetically about his Grandfather, a revolutionary in his own right, whom his Grandmother always referred to as a murderer. In the same vain as “Gimme Shelter” or “9/11,” Bartley and O’Briain just happened to be there with their cameras as the chaos broke out. Within the film, they expose the truth behind the Venezuelan private media’s untruth.

Documentaries such as these always beg the question: Is the film great because the events are so unbelievable (making it a can’t-miss documentary) or because of the filmmaker’s depiction of them? Of course, to say “both” would be to wimp out of the argument, but one can’t deny it, really. The events portrayed in “Revolution” are jaw-dropping, hypnotically real and, yes, unbelievable. The way in which they have been edited should not be discounted either. This documentary, especially in its twisting and turning third act, plays like an action movie. The makers were there in the thick of the riots as well as the heated debates behind locked doors of the President’s offices. They have caught everything and presented it in a quick, tight and thorough manner.

Furthermore, they use the media’s footage against them in a brilliant fashion. The television footage that collides with the film by Bartley and O’Briain is shown in a rectangular, curved television screen, making the media’s version of reality all the more conflicting. The immediacy and intimacy brought about the Bartley and O’Briain’s version of the story makes “Revolution” all the more compelling when contrasting with the bias of the private media.

As I write this in October of 2003, “Revolution” will be playing as part of the Chicago International Film Festival, but I feel it should be released wide as soon as possible. With the invasion of Iraq, the racist remarks by another biased media outlet (Rush Limbaugh) and with the California recall election, “Revolution” seems to be the perfect movie for this period of time. It makes for a great starting-off point for discussion and debate of these timely and important issues. It’s no secret that the media has a bias, either for right or for the left. We accept it because it remains an important component of our constitution. “Revolution” bravely and accurately portrays that component as a potentially life-threatening danger, but still an idea worth fighting for.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8214&reviewer=233
originally posted: 10/02/03 23:12:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 CineVegas Film Festival. For more in the 2003 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
This film is listed in our political documentary series. For more in the Political Documentary series, click here.

User Comments

11/18/06 Andrew Great film! A must see!! Viva Chavez - the ending is *so* uplifting!! 5 stars
6/21/06 Alan Incredible access/footage.Do not miss.(Watch 'em cheer as new AG abolishes democatic rule!) 5 stars
4/16/06 Dave Shows the US dabblling in other nation's souls by foul means 5 stars
12/12/05 joseph it highlights US interventionist policies 5 stars
11/13/05 PF Soto A wakeup call for american ostriches; a must see 5 stars
12/15/04 Steve One sided - yes, but very insightful into struggle between poor/wealthy in Vnzla; good doc 5 stars
10/15/04 The One Best documentary i have ever seen 5 stars
8/17/04 Daryl Westfall Insightful, if one-sided. 4 stars
8/05/04 Carlos Miquilarena Like Nazi Propoganda, Or Worse 1 stars
6/13/04 Movimiento 13 de Abril Excelente documentary!!!! 5 stars
5/21/04 L.B A great riveting film that lets you see the side of the story we are not allowed to see 5 stars
4/20/04 humberto romero excellent 5 stars
3/21/04 Argelia This films shows the truth of what it is goingo on in Venzuela 5 stars
3/12/04 luis excellent 5 stars
3/07/04 datrumpf go see it/decide for yourself 5 stars
3/04/04 huga alvarez Biased one sided propaganda for gullible ignoramuses. 1 stars
2/27/04 Jeniffer Class Terrible. Not a documentary. 1 stars
2/07/04 William Penner Incredible 5 stars
2/01/04 jrockb4 You better believe it 5 stars
1/31/04 Carlos The truth is´nt always confortable 5 stars
1/27/04 k amazing 5 stars
1/16/04 Diego VERY biased. Could [pass as Venezuelan government propaganda. 1 stars
1/11/04 Edward Helms, from Caracas, Venezuela I'm from Alabama, but I live in Caracas since 1996. It's incredible how different is the 5 stars
1/06/04 Jose Luis ES LA PURA VERDAD 5 stars
12/08/03 Dominick Lane Powerful Documentary on the danger of a corporate media. 5 stars
11/30/03 sanjay Proves that private media owned by rich men distort and blatantly lie about events 5 stars
11/29/03 Adrian Possibly the most entertaining documentary I've ever scene 5 stars
11/20/03 pedro it is so manipulated, have to see other side of the history. 2 stars
11/19/03 Jose Excellent 5 stars
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Directed by
  Kim Bartley
  Donnacha O'Brian

Written by

  Hugo Chavez

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