One of the most thrilling political documentaries of the year has nothing to do with Bush, Cheney, Halliburton, Michael Moore or pet goats. Titled The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, it's about the ongoing struggle in Venezuela between the populist firebrand President Hugo Chavez and the forces within that nation that oppose him. Chavez is a politician unimaginable in this country, a military figure with demagogic tendencies who espouses leftist policies of income redistribution, an agenda that makes him the object of fervent adoration among the country's poor.
Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Brian had planned to make a relatively undramatic documentary profile of the leader but, in a fluke of timing, ended up in the middle of a very nearly successful coup attempt (one that was encouraged by the Bush administration). Due to their unparalleled access to this unfolding drama, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is a gripping film by any standard. This is true even if one acknowledges the complaints of the film's critics, who charge that certain key events have been distorted in Chavez's favor.
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised will be shown at Duke's Richard White Auditorium this Sunday, Nov. 7 as part of the 18th annual multi-campus Latin American Film Festival (www.unc.edu/depts/ilas/LAFF/index.htm). Other highlights include return engagements of Joshua Marston's phenomenal Maria Full of Grace, Fernando Meirelles' violent and impassioned City of God, and documentaries about the Cuban ensemble Los Zafiros, the Mexican author Juan Rulfo and a film-essay on contemporary Havana. And on Nov. 14, in UNC's Cobb Theater, Duke professor and filmmaker Charles Thompson will discuss Bienvenidos a Carolina del Norte, his film about Mexican migrant workers made in collaboration with Cynthia Hill. --David Fellerath