It looks like Oliver Stone enjoys being in the company of presidents. The helmer is following up his Bush biopic “W.” with a documentary about Venezuela’s controversial President Hugo Chavez.
Stone has been working on the untitled doc for six months and is hoping to have it ready for next year.
“It’s about Chavez and the South American revolution,” Stone told Daily Variety in a reference to the wave of leftist pols elected to office in Latin America in recent years.
Stone was with Chavez in February when the president helped broker the release of hostages held by the militant FARC group in neighboring Colombia. That release was followed in July by the dramatic rescue by Colombian troops of Ingrid Betancourt and other FARC hostages.
The doc will not focus on the hostage issue but on the opposition Chavez has faced at home and abroad, especially from the Bush administration, which has been vocal in its distaste for the populist socialism espoused by Venezuela’s president.
Stone is also working on a second doc, details of which he is keeping under wraps. He did, however, deny rumors that he’s planning to make a film about Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There have been reports in recent months that Ahmadinejad had authorized Stone to come to Iran and document him.
Stone’s previous docs include “Comandante,” about Cuban President Fidel Castro, and “Persona Non Grata,” which began as a project about Yasser Arafat but eventually became a wider-reaching primer on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, after interviewing the now-dead Arafat proved an impossible task.
News of Stone’s latest documentary comes as the helmer flies to the Middle East to present “W.” as the opening-night film at the Dubai Film Festival today.
“Bush met his fate and destiny in the Middle East, and his policies changed something in the region,” said Stone in a reference to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I hope the film can help the Arab world understand him better and show them something more then they already knew.”
Stone attended the Dubai fest in 2006 with his 9/11 drama “World Trade Center.”
The fifth Dubai fest is starting as speculation mounts about the rapidly expanding emirate’s susceptibility to the global economic recession.
Much of Dubai’s spectacular growth has been built on the back of leveraged debt. With relatively minimal natural resources in oil and gas, Dubai has been seen by some analysts as more vulnerable to the credit crunch than its richer Gulf neighbors.
Fest organizers are hoping to assuage some of the naysayers with a glitzy event. Stars expected to attend the fest include Nicolas Cage, Salma Hayek, Laura Linney and Danny Glover.