Last semester, the Cosford Cinema showed a film titled The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, an Irish “documentary” about the political events that occurred in Venezuela in April 2002. I lived through these events, and the showing of this biased movie really angers me. Its subjective point of view misinforms the already uninformed public about what happened in Venezuela. The filmmakers show the events from a pro-government standpoint, depicting it as the hero and the opposition as a conniving, conspiring group that used the media to “lie” to the international audience. According to rumors in Venezuela, the film was even financed by the government or political parties that support it, but these rumors cannot be confirmed because this sort of money probably comes from secret funds that are not made available to the public.
On Apr. 11, after a massive opposition protest trying to reach the presidential palace ended in bloodshed, members of President Hugo Chavez’s government publicly said the president had accepted to resign. The next day, the opposition established a transition government. This government, however, lasted for less than 24 hours, since it turns out that Chavez had not resigned. Chavez returned to power on Apr. 13.
I was in the protest that was trying to reach the presidential palace that day. It was not a planned conspiracy but rather a spontaneous idea supported by hundreds of people; it was a peaceful march. We were armed with whistles and flags, but when we reached the vicinity of the presidential palace, we were greeted with tear gas and gunfire (that, as far as we could tell, did not come from the police or armed forces). I lost a contact lens to the gas, and my father, who was ahead of me, saw people get shot. The broadcasts of private television channels that were covering the ongoing events were cut off during the shootings by a presidential address in which the president claimed that everything was calm and normal. Later, footage from these channels showed Chavez supporters on a bridge shooting at the unarmed protesters below. In fact, the reporter who got the footage received a prestigious journalism award in Spain, but The Revolution Will Not Be Televised does not mention this.
Of course, I, too, am biased, but I am Venezuelan and not an outsider making a “documentary” about a complex political scenario. Furthermore, I’m not saying that the opposition always does the correct thing in Venezuela, or that one side is right and one is wrong. Yet, if the University is going to show these types of films in the future, maybe it can try to accommodate both points of view, either by showing two different films or by having discussions or informative sessions about the material being presented.
Patricia Mazzei can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.