Government doles out funds for Haitian biopic
Venezuela is kicking an extra $9 million into the budget for biopic “Toussaint,” the co-production between Danny Glover’s Louverture Films and Venezuela’s film studio Villa del Cine.That’s on top of the nearly $18 million it shelled out to Glover’s pet project last year. Budgeted at $30 million, “Toussaint” tracks the life of iconic leader Toussaint Louverture, who led an 18th-century uprising in Haiti. “This film will form part of our ideological canon against Metro Goldwyn Mayer,” said congressman Simon Escalona in reference to the Venezuelan government’s animosity toward the U.S. and, in turn, the dominance of Hollywood. Not all filmmakers back the government’s support for the pic. “In a country with rampant poverty, a catastrophic health crisis and 14,000 violent deaths a year, President Hugo Chavez gives away our money for his friends to play with,” said L.A.-based Venezuelan helmer-scribe Jonathan Jakubowicz. His kidnap drama “Secuestro Express” has been a local hit, but also angered Chavez’s government for its hard-hitting portrayal of sociopolitical malaise in Venezuela. “I don’t know if Mr. Glover’s conscience lets him sleep, but he’s certainly present in all my nightmares,” Jakubowicz added wryly. Glover and Louverture Films producer Joslyn Barnes were unavailable for comment. Along with crooner Harry Belafonte, Glover is among the high-profile celebrity supporters of Chavez. Sean Penn visited Chavez in August on a fact-finding mission. Venezuela has been trying to attract more productions to its $13 million Villa del Cine studio.