Sean Penn is not the only Hollywood star traveling to foreign countries and running down American foreign policy.
Last week, actor Danny Glover, known for his “Lethal Weapon” roles with Mel Gibson, and singer Harry Belafonte, were even more critical of U.S. policies in Iraq than Penn while visiting a Cuban film festival.
Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover
Belafonte, who recently leveled harsh criticism at Secretary of State Colin Powell, told the Cuban newspaper Granma that the Bush administration is maintaining a policy “that doesn’t identify with the interests of the U.S. people.” He added that the Sept. 11 events, “that sowed fear in their hearts,” served the administration “to extend its imperialist, economic and political domination all over the planet.”
Belafonte observed that Bush’s government has mobilized all the media into a pro-war propaganda campaign. He specifically referred to CNN – which he called “the War Channel.”
“Many of my friends are journalists,” added Belafonte, “and they tell me that there has never been as much censorship as now, and if they rebel then they will just lose their jobs. There are many reporters in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Colombia but censorship comes from the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the Bush administration. The U.S. people don’t know the truth.”
Meanwhile, Glover was only a little less outspoken.
“My position on the war is very clear, above all for the impact that it will have on women and children in Iraq who are already suffering the consequences of sanctions,” he said.
Glover assured that there is a growing anti-war movement in the United States that includes trade unions, universities and community groups, “in a battle that will continue until our anti-war voices are heard.”
Both Glover and Belafonte were in Havana for the 24th edition of the International Festival of New Latin American Film, one of the principal tools of dictator Fidel Castro’s propaganda machine and a constant lure for Hollywood celebrities.
Glover has gone to the Havana Film Festival on two previous occasions. He said they represented a wonderful opportunity to make immediate contact with Cubans, their culture, music and art. The actor explained that in Havana, he
had understood the need for independent filmmaking, the beauty of Latin American cinema, and the possibility of people beginning to unite to relate the “universality of stories that there are to tell.” To do this, he suggested we must find ways to help these efforts because “we can’t wait for Hollywood to open its doors to us,” we have to discover how to tell these
stories and get them distributed.
Belafonte has only “missed four out of 24 festivals.” He confessed that the first time he came it was out of “curiosity and fascination,” wondering how Cubans had managed to organize a festival and was moved by “the seriousness, cinematic level and intense debates.” Now he returns “out of a sense of duty, but with the expectation of learning something more every time.”
Referring to art, the famous actor-singer commented that U.S. festivals were like stepping back to “the dinosaur age”; for him Hollywood produces “films that educate and inspire less and less.” In comparison, Belafonte has found the “highest movie-making standards at festivals in Havana, Cartagena and Brazil, where cinema is an art showing more sensitivity than just aiming at the market.”
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