Return to Third Cinema? The Case of Listen To Venezuela
By Deirdre O’Neill and Mike Wayne.
Sources: Film International, Vol.8, No.1, 2010, and ListentoVenezuela.info
We arrived in Venezuela in February 2008 on a Leverhulme Scholarship that would allow us a unique opportunity to live and work in the country for a year. We had chosen to go to Venezuela because we had for some time been closely following the revolution that had been developing there since the breakthrough election of Hugo Chávez in 1998. We wanted to see this revolution at first hand and we wanted to contribute to it in any way we could. We were aware that the mainstream media, both press and television, in the United Kingdom and internationally, were misrepresenting
the Venezuelan revolution. They focused unremittingly on the personality of Hugo Chávez, ignoring the broader issues and involvement of millions of people. Moreover, the focus on Chávez has been extremely distorted, variously describing him as a killer, dictator, populist strongman, megalomaniac, supporter of terrorism,
anti-Semitic, buffoon and other sundry tropes that merely confirm racist western stereotypes of Latin American leaders.
However, people around the world started to pay more attention to what was happening
in Venezuela after an attempted coup by the Venezuelan oligarchy (which was backed by the Bush administration) in April 2002. This dramatic episode drew attention to what was happening in the country and what was at stake in the conflict between the oligarchy and the people. The attempted coup and the popular uprising which it provoked were captured on film in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain, 2002) which had international exposure. This documentary gave
an account of what may very well be the first ‘media coup’, insofar as the private television companies in Venezuela actively participated in and supported the coup.
This struggle to remember and reclaim the past and create a different future is now a global one. This consumer entrapment has dominated globally via neo-liberalism. Today we need to find alternatives to this model. Despite the economic crash, there is little sense of an alternative paradigm emerging in the West.
What is happening in Venezuela is not of course a model that can be picked off the shelf and applied everywhere else, but it is a gigantic experiment in trying to develop an alternative to neo-liberal capitalism. Now is the time to listen to Venezuela. Listen To Venezuela is available to buy for £10 from the film’s website at: http://www.listentovenezuela.info.
Deirdre O’Neill and Mike Wayne will attend and take part in a Q&A at an RATB screening of Listen To Venezuela on 27 February 2011 at 2pm in the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, Manchester, UK, M2.