Chavecito, the Movie?

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Yet another Chavista legacy that’s absolutely huge: the Villa del Cine, the national film studio complex. Without Chavecito, it never would have gotten built.

Chavecito was always larger than life. And now, he’s about to get a major film tribute, as the head of the Venezuelan national film production company has announced:

José Antonio Gómez, the president of the Venezuelan national film production company, Villa del Cine, highlighted the support the revolutionary government has given to the nation’s cinematic production via the state company, which celebrated its eighth anniversary on Tuesday.

“The State has participated with so much force in re-impulsing national production to the point where it has become simply huge, more than any other film-making country,” Gómez said during an interview on the VTV show Zurda Konducta.

On June 3, 2003, President Hugo Chávez ordered the creation of a cinematographic complex which, with government financing, would boost the creations of young filmmakers and creatives throughout the land.

“Chávez made possible the dreams of many people who make films, but with much difficulty. The filmmaker of 15 years ago had to sell his apartment, give up his car, and still not complete the film. Today it’s real, it exists, knock on the door and you can make your movie,” Gómez said.

Gómez also said that now two and a half million moviegoers have enjoyed the national cinema, a figure he expects will double during this year. “This would never have happened, it’s an amazing number. Before, we didn’t have that, because we didn’t have films either,” Gómez emphasized.

Gómez also informed that the production phase of the film “Maisanta” has begun, which will be directed by César Bolívar. “It will show us a Maisanta who, during his lifetime, was being shaped by the politico-social surroundings in which he lived, which brought him to leave the family home to defend the Revolution, as his father had done, as Ezequiel Zamora did,” Gómez said.

[…]

Gómez also said that as of Tuesday, the state production company will begin the process of collecting scripts for a film on Comandante Hugo Chávez.

“You can send your scripts to the Villa del Cine right away, we’ll have our page up until next Monday so you can send them to us in digital form,” Gómez announced.

Translation mine.

Maisanta is Pedro Pérez Delgado, Chavecito’s great-grandfather. He was the son of Colonel Pedro Pérez Pérez, an officer in the army of Ezequiel Zamora during the days of the Federal War. He began his fateful career at the age of 16 after killing an army colonel who had refused to take responsibility for impregnating Petra, his sister. Family honor and his late father’s name avenged, at a cost: He had to run for his life. Along the way, he stumbled across a troop of revolutionary guerrillas, whom he joined, as he had no other way of surviving as a young fugitive. He became a powerful guerrilla leader, famed for his war cry of “Madre Santa” (Holy Mother), which, in his plainsman’s dialect, got crunched into “Maisanta”, his nom de guerre. He died a prisoner in the dungeons of the infamous and brutal dictator, Juan Vicente Gómez…the first of many Venezuelan caudillos to sell out the country and its oilfields to the Yanks.

So you can see that Chavecito wasn’t just some jumped-up little nobody out of nowhere, as the oligarchy like to paint him, but a revolutionary who literally had it in his blood, and who took very seriously the history lessons too many of his schoolmates were obliged to forget. And who had more than just a passing physical resemblance to his great-grandfather, who was still remembered by the old folks of the great plains where he was born and raised. Maisanta, too, was surrounded by all kinds of oligarchic lies and slander, the main one being that he was nothing more than a common bandit who killed for fun. Chavecito himself pointed out, in my favorite scene from The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, that nothing could have been further from the truth. Maisanta is a national hero, a rebel democrat who took on a dictator…and so is his great-grandson.

A more fitting subject for a movie would be hard to imagine, in either of the two. And there is no doubt that the writerly talents of Venezuela will be more than happy to oblige with all kinds of scripts. There’s only one real problem that I can see: Finding an actor both uniquely handsome and charismatic enough to play Chavecito. It’s the same bugaboo that anyone making a movie about Che Guevara faces: The real guy was invariably better looking than anyone cast in his role (with the possible exception of Omar Sharif). And he always had better lines, too.

Still, I don’t think I’ve been this excited to anticipate a movie since…well, EVER. And I can hardly wait to see what comes next.

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