[R-G] CBC airs Oliver Stone's COMANDANTE
ve2ndw at rac.ca
Fri Mar 26 10:45:05 MST 2004
IN a candid discussion, Fidel Castro speaks about his youth,
his rise to power, his children, liaisons with women,
theology, philosophy, dictators, Ernest Hemingway ... and
how he sees the present state of his homeland.
COMANDANTE : An interview with Fidel Castro by Oliver Stone
Sunday March 28 & Friday April 2, 2004--CBC-TV: 22h ET
Director Oliver Stone traveled to Havana to meet with Cuban
leader Fidel Castro in February 2002. Over the course of
three days, the two men engaged in a series of frank
conversations which culminated, months later, in the film
COMANDANTE. In an interview with the London Times, Oliver
Stone noted that directing COMANDANTE--his first documentary
film--gave him a welcome break from moviemaking.
"I was tired of movies because they're so big, expensive,
and artificial [...] and also the digital aspect was so
important. It was great to take up the camera and feel it
[...] and feel the freedom." The project began when Fernando
Sulichan, a Spanish producer, offered Stone a chance to
interview Fidel Castro for Spanish TV. The Cuban leader had
agreed to the interview under the condition that he could
stop filming at any moment. The production team taped over
30 hours of interviews, Castro never exercised his power to
stop the cameras.
Over the three days, Stone films Castro working at his
office, touring a medical school and a museum, and follows
him through the streets where he mingles freely with Cuban
citizens. In an interview with the BBC, Stone talked about
his thoughts on Castro.
"Castro is isolated in the hemisphere and [...] I admire him
because he's a fighter. He stood alone and in a sense he's
Don Quixote, the last revolutionary, tilting at this
windmill of keeping the island in a state of, I suppose,
egalitarianism where [...] everyone gets education, and
everyone gets good water."
The film paints Castro as an engaging and intelligent
leader, and looks beyond the familiar beard, cigar, and
jungle fatigues. Stone and Castro discuss pivotal moments in
world history such as President Kennedy's assassination, the
Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Cuban missile crisis.
Originally produced for Spanish television, the European
and American film communities expressed interest in the
documentary. COMANDANTE premiered at the Sundance Film
Festival in January 2003 and HBO, the pay-tv network,
planned to air the film the following May in the US.
In April 2003 several men armed with a pistol and knives
hijacked a Cuban ferry carrying 50 passengers and ordered
the captain to sail for the US. The ferry was captured by
Cuban authorities. A few days later three of the hijackers
were executed by firing squad, on Castro's orders: 75 other
dissidents were imprisoned.
The events stirred controversy. COMANDANTE was banned from a
New York film festival and HBO postponed its broadcast
stating that current events made the film "incomplete." The
network asked Oliver Stone to return to Cuba and interview
Castro again with recent events in mind. Castro agreed, as
he was upset by the accusations and wanted a chance to deny
them. The resulting film, LOOKING FOR FIDEL, is scheduled to
run on HBO in April 2004.
Stone has also directed a documentary, PERSONA NON GRATA,
about Yasser Arafat and the current state of the
Palestinian conflict. #
PS: A "resources" link from the website named at the top
includes an interview of Castro by the CBC's Paule
Robitaille. She covers the Cuban's attendance at the funeral
of Pierre Trudeau, the Canadian leader.
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