Director Oliver Stone is set to screen ”Comandante,” his documentary tribute to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, this week.
His next project? Yasser Arafat.
The Castro film is culled from three days of intimate conversations with the Cuban dictator, always a favorite of
Hollywood stars – from Stone to Robert Redford and even Steven Spielberg, who recently returned from a trip to Cuba urging the embargo be lifted.
Eventually, ”Comandante” will be headed for America’s living rooms through the auspices of HBO.
Those who have seen the film and understand the atrocities committed by Castro – from mass killings to holding of political prisoners to sponsorship of terrorism – say it is a one-sided
propaganda piece that portrays the Cuban dictator as an international cultural and political hero.
While ”Comandante” is sure to make them stand up and cheer at Sundance, even many in Hollywood are wondering if Stone may go over the top in ”Persona Non Grata,” a potentially explosive
movie project lionizing Yasser Arafat.
Stone reportedly shot more than 80 hours of material in Israel and the West Bank, interviewing Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Arafat and leader of Hamas in what he described as an effort ”to provide materials for the broadest possible overview of the conflict.”
”If Hollywood director Oliver Stone’s upcoming documentary on Yasser Arafat is as close to reality as were his movies on John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Israel has real reason for concern,” said Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post.
Stone interviewed Arafat last March in Arafat’s Ramallah compound and was photographed at the time with Portuguese Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Samargo. On that same trip,
Samarago accused Israel of employing ”Nazi tactics” against Palestinian Arabs.
The film has been commissioned by French and Spanish television companies. There is a possibility PBS may buy rights to air it in the U.S.
”The power of name appeal in the film industry is unbelievable,” said Zvi Vapni, deputy counsel at Israel’s consulate in Los Angeles. ”People who might not sit and watch a documentary on Arafat for a minute, will sit and watch if Oliver Stone’s name is on it. That is our concern. It will have a strong impact for many people.”
Stone, 56, won the Best Director Oscar for ”Born on the Fourth of July” and ”Platoon.” Among his other well-known works are ”JFK,” ”Nixon,” ”Wall Street,” ”Natural Born Killers,” ”The
Doors,” and ”Any Given Sunday.”
Following his trip to the Middle east last year, Stone was quoted in Daily Variety as saying he ”understands why they, the suicide bombers, feel the way they do.”
”He also reminded,” the entertainment paper continued, ”’I’m
against violence in these matters. I’m against suicide bombers – they kill innocent people.”
Stone added, however, ”The settlements – they are something else. The Israelis have no business in the West Bank. The settlements have to be gotten out of the West Bank.”
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