Chavez and Danny Glover on Toussaint Louverture Film Project

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Venezuela giving Danny Glover $18m to direct film on Toussaint Louverture led slave revolt

Chavez hopes venture will aid anti-imperialist fight

Actor wants to educate US on Toussaint Louverture

Venezuela is to give the American actor Danny Glover almost $18m (£9m) to make a film about a slave uprising in Haiti, with President Hugo Chavez hoping the historical epic will sprinkle Hollywood stardust on his effort to mobilise world public opinion against imperialism and western oppression.

The Venezuelan congress said it would use the proceeds from a recent bond sale with Argentina to finance Glover’s biopic of Toussaint Louverture, an iconic figure in the Caribbean who led an 18th-century revolt in Haiti.

It will also give seed money for a film version of The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel Garc­a Marquez’s novel about the last days of Simon Bolivar, who liberated much of South America from Spanish colonialism.

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The project could mark a breakthrough for Villa del Cine, a new government-funded studio outside the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, which is part of Mr Chavez’s effort to combat what he sees as American cultural hegemony.

Glover, who visited Caracas at the weekend, told the Guardian that he would direct the film, titled Toussaint. “It’s so advanced that you can taste it. We’ve scouted locations within 75km [45 miles] of Caracas. I can do everything I need to do with this film from here.” He said he had been in talks with the government, but was unaware that a decision had been made until journalists tipped him off about the congress’s announcement. “That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” he said.

He suggested that there was still some uncertainty over whether the venture would go ahead. “One of the major axioms in theatre is never talk about anything until the deal is signed. There’s a lot of deliberation that goes on before something actually happens.”

It appeared that the congress timed the announcement to coincide with a media conference in Caracas hosted by the television network Telesur, a Venezuela-funded regional answer to CNN. Glover is on the board.

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Toussaint Louverture is a towering figure in the region’s history. A freed slave of African descent, he led thousands of slaves in successful campaigns against British, Spanish and French troops before being betrayed, captured and exiled. He died in 1803, just before his followers succeeded in establishing the island’s independence. William Wordsworth wrote a sonnet about him.

Glover said he wanted to educate the US about the story. “It’s been essentially wiped out of our historic memory, it’s been wiped clean.”

The actor is chairman of the TransAfrica Forum, an advocacy group for African Americans and other members of Africa’s diaspora, and a vocal critic of the Bush administration. Along with the singer Harry Belafonte, Glover is the best known celebrity supporter of Mr Chávez, whom he considers “remarkable”. He is a regular visitor to Venezuela.

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More @:http://film.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329883684-3156,00.html

Guardian Unlimited


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