Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez inaugurated a new film studio complex aimed at challenging what he called “Hollywood’s cultural dictatorship”.
“Through [Hollywood’s films], [we are inoculated] with messages that don’t belong to our traditions, rather they weaken our culture and our morality” said Chavez at the inauguration, according to the Venezuelan daily Ultimas Noticias. Chavez also accused Hollywood of portraying Latin Americans as violent criminals, thieves and drug traffickers and described the studio complex as a new weapon in Venezuela’s "cultural artillery" against U.S. cultural domination.
The Film Villa Foundation, situated in Guarenas, near Caracas, received an initial Ministry of Culture investment of over $8.3 million, less than a tenth the amount spent on the average Hollywood movie. The first phase of the complex includes areas for production and post-production equipped with the latest technology, according to Venezuela’s Minister of Culture, Francisco Seto, who also attended the inauguration. Seto said that the government hoped the complex would provide a platform for the production of Venezuelan films and the purchase of independent films from abroad, including the United States. On average the Venezuelan film industry produces one film every four years, according to government figures.
Angel Palacios, an award-winning Venezuelan independent film maker, told Venezuelanalysis.com, “During many years cinema production was limited to those people who had lots of money or the fortune to study abroad. In my opinion the creation of the Film Villa Foundation is a great step forward in the democratization of cinema production here in Venezuela.”
Seto also announced that this year the government will inaugurate one hundred community halls for projecting digital videos. In November 2005, a new cinema law committed government funds to the development of the Venezuelan film industry.
In a related initiative, last year the Venezuelan government provided majority funding for Telesur, a Spanish-language television channel launched to challenge news coverage provided by major corporate networks and to promote Latin American integration.