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The Hugo Chavez Show

press reaction

David Montgomery, The Washington Post

... It makes for excellent television, and the best part of the documentary ... is the skillful use of footage from "Aló, Presidente" to frame this exploration of the controversial leader. ....

The reporting is tough but not completely damning of Chávez. The documentarians credit Chávez with being the first president in the 50-year history of Venezuelan democracy to elevate themes of poverty and social justice to the top of national discussion. But they suggest that his methods for addressing those issues have been uneven and over-hyped.

... this portrait transcends news events. President-elect Barack "no-drama" Obama will discover that his Venezuelan counterpart is all drama, all the time. "Chávez is in urgent need of an epic," Chávez biographer Alberto Barrera says in the documentary. "He needs great enemies" in order to "maintain such a high temperature and keep saying, 'I'm a great revolutionary.' "

Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe

... [A]ny treatment of [Chávez] runs three risks. They are, in decreasing order of Norteamericano likelihood, demonizing him, dismissing him as a clown, or treating him like a hero. ... Ofra Bikel, who wrote, directed, and produced "The Hugo Chávez Show," manages to avoid all three pitfalls. ... The result is an even-handed, unillusioned view of a highly perplexing figure. ...

Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

... a fascinatingly revealing documentary ... reveals a democracy that appears resilient and courageous in the face of a man flirting with tyranny. ...

Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times

... [P]utting change into effect can be a reasoned, orderly process, or it can be more akin to a runaway train. Venezuela has been riding that train for a decade now, and this program does a pretty good job of putting across just how volatile the engineer is. ... A clip that shows him turning on an Irish reporter and plunging into a tirade about Europe is jaw-dropping.

More important than the theatrics is whether Mr. Chávez’s revolution has succeeded in using Venezuela’s oil money to improve life for its many impoverished citizens. The "Frontline" program spends disappointingly little time on this question, presumably because Mr. Chávez doesn’t make reporting such a story easy. ...

Glenn Garvin, The Miami Herald

... It's the clips from Alo, Presidente that make Frontline's report, The Hugo Chávez Show, such a withering indictment of Venezuela's megalomaniacal Marxist ruler. ...

The humiliating televised confessions to which Chávez's ministers are reduced are disquietingly reminiscent of those of Cuban dissidents at the baseball-stadium showtrials that Castro routinely staged for television in the first days after he came to power. That points to the one minor flaw in the otherwise excellent The Hugo Chávez Show, the repeated claim that Chávez's media freakery represents something new in Latin American politics. ...

Extra (Chicago)

... an illuminating portrait of the Venezuelan president. ...

El Universal (Caracas)

A biographical documentary on Hugo Chávez made in the United Stated portrays the Venezuelan ruler as a charismatic and buffoonish leader eager to become a myth, and brands his socialist polices as a failure after a decade in power. ...

Christian Toto, Pajamas Media

... The Hugo Chávez Show doesn’t shortchange his sizable flaws. But it does so with caution, and it gets routinely swept up by the man’s charm. ...

Christian Lowe, Military.com

... The documentary is so thorough that it shatters the image of Chávez as caricature, painting a picture of the leader with such clarity that it makes you wonder how a guy like this can still cling to power in the modern age. ...

posted november 25, 2008

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