December Boys

Doucmentary film directed by Christopher Martin and John Pilger
Running Time: 96 mins
Rated: Rated M (moderate themes and violence)

John Pilger has been a provocative and insightful journalist for many decades. Practically all his audiovisual work has been for television. Now he has made a film for cinema.

The focus of attention is Latin America. Pilger travels around several countries: Venezuela, Chile, Bolivia with reference to Central American countries like Nicaragua and Guatamala. The aim is to explore the nature of the United States' foreign policy and covert and overt action in the continent. Pilger has the ability to frighten - especially with interviews from former politicians, former CIA operatives and chiefs, staff from the School of Americas where so many of the military dictatorships officers were trained, some of whom operate on a policy of America knows best and will act on that principle and, says one bluff interviewee, anyone who disagrees can like it or lump it.

Back Pilger goes into the history of the Allende era, the Pinochet era with its devastating effect on ordinary people who went missing. He reminds us of the destruction and oppression in the civil wars in Central America. He looks at the new president of Bolivia and his attempts to change society for the better and for more equality and independence.

But, the star of the film is someone Pilger admires very much, president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, the present bane of the American administration. He interviews a jovial Chavez with enthusiasm and more than a touch of partisanship. He takes us back through the orchestrated attempts to overthrow Chavez and hound him out of government. The many hostile television networks in Venezuela offer a different partisan approach. People power brought Chavez back and he is still there.

Pilger's frequently polemic attitude alienates unsympathetic viewers. However, like him or not, his opinions need to be paid attention to, especially with the wide range of interviewees from all walks of life. It seems that Latin America is flexing its muscles and moving towards greater autonomy as well as independence.

Hopscotch Out 27th September

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting

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