Stone film an intro to Chavez and his movement

American film director Oliver Stone gestures during a news conference at a hotel in Caracas, Friday, May 28, 2010. Stone is in Venezuela to present his film "South of the Border", a road trip across five South American countries to explore the social and political movements under way in the region. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

May 28, 2010 7:33:08 PM PDT
American filmmaker Oliver Stone said Friday he deeply admires Hugo Chavez but the Venezuelan president might consider talking a bit less on television.

Promoting his new documentary "South of the Border" in Caracas, Stone heaped praise on Chavez, saying he is leading a movement for "social transformation" in Latin American. The film features informal interviews by Stone with Chavez and six allied leftist presidents, from Bolivia's Evo Morales to Cuba's Raul Castro.

"I admire Hugo. I like him very much as a person. I can say one thing. ... He shouldn't be on television all the time," Stone said at a news conference. "As a director I say you don't want to be overpowering. And I think he is sometimes that way."

Chavez makes near-daily speeches that run for hours, often reminiscing, lecturing about history, announcing news and breaking into song. His Sunday program can last six hours or more.

"He's a soldier and he speaks from his heart," Stone said. "His vision is huge. ... And he will go down in history."

The Oscar-winning director hopes his documentary will help people better understand a leader who Stone said is wrongly ridiculed "as a strongman, as a buffoon, as a clown."

"This is a positive portrayal of a man who Americans do not have access to," Stone said. "He is demonized in the American and European press as a monster."

Stone said President Barack Obama's administration hasn't done anything to improve U.S. relations with Chavez or his Latin American allies.

The director defended his decision not to interview Chavez's opponents, saying that people already hear those complaints and that the movie is not intended as a detailed examination of Chavez's record.

"It's an introduction to an entire movement in South America that the Americans do not know anything about," he said.

Stone was kicking off a Latin American tour to promote the film, with upcoming screenings in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina. The documentary is being released in the United States and Europe this summer.