The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (documentary)

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Directed by Kim Bartley
Donnacha O'Briain
Produced by David Power
Cinematography Kim Bartley
Donnacha O'Briain
Editing by Ángel Hernández Zoido
Running time 74 min
Country  Ireland

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (a.k.a. Chavez: Inside the Coup) is a 2002 documentary about the April 2002 Venezuelan coup attempt which briefly deposed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. A television crew from Ireland's national broadcaster, RTÉ happened to be recording a documentary about Chávez during the events of April 11, 2002. Shifting focus, they followed the events as they occurred. During their filming, the crew recorded images of the events that they say contradict explanations given by Chávez's opposition, the private media, the US State Department, and then White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. The documentary says that the coup was the result of a conspiracy between various old guard and anti-Chávez factions within Venezuela and the United States.


[edit] Synopsis

The portrayal of Hugo Chávez in the documentary has been described as that of a "colourful unpredictable folk hero", beloved by Venezuela's working classes and opposed to "a power structure that would see him deposed". The documentary portrays Chávez's first years as president before the coup and the support the government had among the working class and the poor, referencing educational plans, distribution of the oil revenue and grassroots democracy and participation of people previously excluded from politics as a key to this.

It then explains the privately owned television channels, business and upper class opposition, who accuse Chávez of being an insane communist dictator. The documentary then moves to show how the media promoted demonstrations against Chávez and worked together with some military and big businessmen opposition to create an anti-Chávez climate leading to the day of the coup.

On 11 April 2002, the opposition finally organized a big demonstration that went to Miraflores presidential palace to demand Chávez's resignation. But a huge crowd of Chavistas was waiting at Miraflores to support the president.

The film shows Chávez's supporters being shot down by snipers, and then some controversial footage of Chavistas shooting back, which the private media channels then used to say the Chávez's supporters shot at the unarmed anti-Chávez crowd, when they were actually shooting towards an empty street with armoured vans from where the shots against them were coming.

It then goes on to show an interview with a journalist claiming that he resigned from one of the privately owned TV channels after being forbidden to talk about any pro-Chávez demonstrarions taking place at the time.

Filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donacha O'Briain were inside the presidential palace on 11 April 2002 when Chávez was deposed and two days later when he returned to power, recording "what was probably history's shortest-lived coup d'état."[1]

The pivotal role of the media before and during the coup is highlighted throughout its 75 minutes, with emphasis in the importance that both Chávez government and the opposition who executed the coup gave to gaining control over channel 8, the only TV Channel owned by the state, shut down the day of the coup and recovered afterwards to communicate the news that the rest of the channels were not communicating, such as the fact that Chávez had not resigned but was actually being held as a prisoner[2] and the fact that what was happening was not a democratical transition but actually a coup d'état.

[edit] Reception of the film

The film won twelve awards at film festivals and was nominated for another four.[3][4] Among those prizes were the Silver Hugo award for the Best Documentary in the Chicago International Film Festival (2003), the Banff Rockie Award as Best Information & Current Affairs Program at the Banff Television Festival (2003) and the International Documentary Association's IDA Award (2003).[3]

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised has been widely debated among both supporters and critics of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Frank Scheck, for The Hollywood Reporter, says about The Revolution will not be televised, a.k.a Chávez: Inside the Coup:

While the filmmakers were necessarily limited to filming what was in their immediate orbit, their close proximity to the events at hand results in often gripping footage, and the finished product resembles a taut if at times confusing and inadvertently comic political thriller. One might have hoped for a little more in the way of analysis and historical context, but on the other hand, with its mere 74-minute running time, the film earns points for brevity and succinctness.[5]

Nick Fraser, Storyville Series Editor for BBC - UK, on his Commissioner's Comment over The Revolution Will Not Be Televised said:

The result is a brilliant piece of journalism but it is also an astonishing portrait of the balance of forces in Venezuela. On one side stand the Versace wearing classes, rich from many decades of oil revenues, and on the other the poor in their barrios and those within the armed forces who support Chávez.

The media, who ought to be merely reporting the conflict splitting the country down the middle, are in fact adjuncts of the coup-makers.

Watch this film and you may truly for the first time in your life understand the term media bias.[6]

J. Hoberman, for The Village Voice says:

In addition to reporting a scoop, Bartley and O'Briain do an excellent job in deconstructing the Venezuelan TV news footage of blood, chaos, and rival crowds. As befits its title, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is nearly a textbook on media manipulation.[7]

Writing for The New York Times, Stephen Holden comments:

More than a scary close-up look at the raw mechanics of a power grab, the film is also a cautionary examination of the use of television to deceive and manipulate the public.[8]

(33m13s). Shooters over the bridge of "Llaguno".
(34m55s). Images of the Baralt Avenue. "The Revolution" narration: "What the TV stations did not broadcast was this camera angle, that clearly shows that the streets below were empty".

The film has been severely criticized by opponents of Hugo Chávez, who say that it omits or misrepresents important events, such as a televised announcement of Chávez's resignation by General-in-Chief, Lucas Rincón, resulting in a distorted version of the events as a coup[9][10][11]. Chávez never resigned, he refused to sign the resignation letter that the coup plotters handed him.[2]

In 2003 Venezuelan TV producers and engineers Thaelman Urgelles and Wolfgang Schalk, said that The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was unethical and a work of propaganda. They say that the images showing the Baralt Avenue without any people and the Venevisión video showing the shooters of Puente Llaguno were filmed at different times, according to their own analysis of the shadows of the buildings. They also argue that the film ignores or misrepresents other important details of the events.[9][12][13]. They produced a film that shows their arguments, called X-ray of a Lie.

Due to opposition pressure, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was withdrawn from an Amnesty International film festival in Vancouver in November 2003. The decision to withdraw the film was taken because of threats to the physical safety of Amnesty staff in Caracas if the film was shown in the festival. Bartley and O'Briain stated that "unfortunately, this perfectly legitimate decision by AI to protect the safety of their workers has been distorted by some in order to claim that AI dropped our documentary because of its content."[14]

Another documentary, Puente Llaguno: Claves de una Masacre by Ángel Palacios, argues that "anti-Chávez opposition alliance manipulated coverage – Venezuela's private media are overwhelmingly opposed to the left-leaning president – to make it look like the government used gunmen to shoot and kill opposition demonstrators on April 11, 2002 at Puente Llaguno in Caracas",[15] echoing in more detail similar arguments made in The Revolution will not be Televised.

Every year, the IDFA, International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam, gives an acclaimed filmmaker the chance to screen his or her personal Top 10 favorite films. In 2007, Iranian filmmaker Maziar Bahari selected The Revolution will not be Televised for his top ten classics from the history of documentary.[16]

[edit] Soundtrack

Introductory song: La Soga by Ali Primera.

[edit] Awards

[edit] References

  1. ^ "The Revolution will not be Televised -Film Synopsis". Archived from the original on 2008-01-05. Retrieved on 2007-06-18. 
  2. ^ a b Del Naranco, Rafael (13 April 2002). "El Ejército derroca a Chávez y pone en su lugar al líder de la patronal". El Mundo. Retrieved on 2009-02-08. (Spanish)
  3. ^ a b c Awards for Chavez: Inside the Coup (2003).The Internet Movie Database - IMDb.
  4. ^ Awards 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' has won to date
  5. ^ SCHECK, Frank. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The Hollywood Reporter, 4//1/2003
  6. ^ FRASER, Nick. Chávez: Inside The Coup. Storyville. BBC UK Wednesday 18 November 2003 11pm-12.05am
  7. ^ J. Hoberman (2003-11-04). "Recall Sequel in Venezuela? Hugo Your Way, We'll Go Ours". The Village Voice.,hoberman2,48373,20.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-15. 
  8. ^ Holden, Stephen (2003-11-05). "FILM REVIEW; Tumult in Venezuela's Presidential Palace, Seen Up Close". The New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-06-15. 
  9. ^ a b "Cineastas denuncian manipulación en documental sobre el 11-A" by Alexis Correia, Newspaper El Nacional, 3 October 2003, p. B-6
  10. ^ CJR May/June 2004:
  11. ^ Guardian | Chavez film puts staff at risk, says Amnesty
  12. ^ Cultura -
  13. ^ Principal -
  14. ^ Campbell, Duncan (2003-11-22). "Chavez film puts staff at risk, says Amnesty". The Guardian. Retrieved on 2008-06-15. 
  15. ^ Kirk, Alejandro (2005-04-26). "FILM-VENEZUELA: Documentary Revolution". Inter Press Service. Retrieved on 2008-06-14. 
  16. ^ "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". 2007. Retrieved on 2007-11-09. 

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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