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Jeremy Colson

Jeremy Colson's festival coverage.

Film Festival ambassador to
Visiting Athens, Bangkok, Cairo, Hanoi, Hiroshima, Phuket, Istanbul, Antalya, Estonia, Calcutta, Goa, Trivandrum, Kathmandu, Neasden and more.


Bush was most dangerous president in history: Oliver Stone

BANGKOK ~ Oliver Stone said he’d seen the lies of the Reagan administration in the ‘eighties, and how the USA had intervened in 60 or 70 countries, but nothing had prepared him for the Bush years.

“This has been the worst decade of my life” Stone told reporters in Bangkok yesterday.

The film-maker, in Thailand to deliver a series of talks organised by the International Peace Foundation, said “Bush was the most dangerous president in history,” because of his policy on nuclear weapons.

He said US foreign policy since 9/11 had been formed by “an immature president” who had deluded American citizens in order to further political objectives at the expense of individual rights.

“We don’t even have rights anymore. They’ve gone ….. the right to privacy has gone in favour of the false god of national security,” Stone said.

Earlier he said that the last 50 years of the 20th century had been characterised by myth, delusion and corruption of the truth on a massive scale. 

“The first great delusion in my lifetime was that China and Russia were united and that they were a death threat to the US,” he said, adding that we now see we were prey to many things.

More recently we have experienced the untruths that came out of the Bush/Blair partnership. It is too early to say just how damaging that will turn out to be, but looking back at previous interventions, for example Iraq One, it is clear that America and the world were sold a story.

“In my own lifetime I’ve seen so much history being re-written. It’s true that history belongs to the victor and it is true that the use of power to corrupt the truth characterises the last 50 years. And we believe like a lynch-mob, we bring it on. The self-delusion of a people in denial is still overwhelming to me, even at my age”, Stone said. [Stone is 63]

The Lewis Carroll life of the Vietnamese for example, who have been “switched” from the brutality of communism to the brutality of raw capitalism and consumerism in a matter of years was particularly shocking, said Stone, a practising Buddhist

Stone was also shocked by more recent events, not least a sweeping Supreme Court decision last week that allows corporations to unleash millions of dollars to help defeat or elect candidates, rolling back decades-old limits on political spending.

The ruling dismissed the idea that corporate wealth could distort the political debate and rejected corporate restrictions as "censorship".

Stone said Obama had been disappointing. Right from the beginning he had failed to live up to the promise of change. The appointment of “old-school” faces like Hilary Clinton, Robert Gates and Timothy Geitner showed that Obama was going for consensus when he had a mandate for change. Obama had let the opportunity for change slip through his fingers.

That said, Obama was still a lot better than the alternative. “If McCain was in power we’d be bombing Afghanistan back into the stone age,” he said.

Turning to movie-making, Stone said his films had been an attempt to “untie the knots” of untruth and revisionist history.

He said his most recent work is a 10-hour documentary called the Secret History of America which will be shown initially in the USA and will subsequently be available for worldwide distribution through Fremantle UK.

Stone attracted criticism for his take on history in the movie "JFK" and for his documentary about Cuban leader Fidel Castro, "Commandante." And he is expecting to draw further attacks when his new work is aired on cable.

The documentary focuses on the 20th century. Topics range from the reasons behind the Cold War with the Soviet Union, US President Harry Truman's decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, and changes in America's global role since the fall of Communism in 1989.

Stone said he believed the series will be "the deepest contribution I could ever make in film to my children and the next generation. "I can only hope a change in our thinking will result."

The Secret History makes parallels, it is not a linear history, Stone said.

He made much of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and said the bomb is still with us. Truman will be remembered for his actions, but  “Bush was the most dangerous president in history,” because his policy was that the bomb could be used on anyone he chose to declare as a terrorist.

The 2004 election when Bush was returned to the White House for a second term “was a lie and we have to let young people know how it was that someone like Bush got elected.”

Stone’s latest feature film Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, which is a sequel to the 1987 Academy Award-winning film Wall Street and the first sequel he has directed will be released “soon”. Set in New York, the film revolves around the 2008 financial crisis and stock market crash.

“2008 was near meltdown for the world economy… It was a heart attack for the world financial system, and required quadruple by-pass surgery,” Stone said, adding that Wall Street 2 was more than just a sequel. “It’s a different ball-game now. It’s about now.”

Turning to other people’s movies, Stone was clearly impressed by James Cameron’s most recent work. Although he didn’t mention the word Avatar, he alluded on several occasions to the skills that Cameron had deployed to communicate an important message.

Stone pointed out that the “nerds who help the hero look Jewish, the winning side in the movie is coloured blue, and the “defector” to the winning side becomes blue.” There are some strong statements in the movie and Stone was of the view that Cameron had clearly found a way to communicate a message that is now going right round the world.

Stone said America was still producing some excellent movies, but he also acknowledged that there were some bad ones. For example, he was still stunned by the fact that a movie as appalling as Black Hawk Down (2001) could have ever got made, let alone nominated. “I still find it disturbing that we should celebrate a film that glorifies the shooting down of African civilians from a helicopter gunship”.

Gun violence has always been acceptable in the USA but never more so than now, said Stone. “Kids in the US have been soaked with an average of 10,000 hours of TV violence by the time they leave school. TV is a narcotic and it is at least as dangerous as cocaine. What we need now is not so much a war on drugs as a war on TV,” he declared.

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About Jeremy Colson

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This is the diary of a festival ambassador travelling throughout Asia and elsewhere around the world.  Festivals covered include: Bangkok, Phuket, Istanbul, Antalya, Estonia, London, Calcutta, Goa, Trivandrum, Chennai, Neasden and more


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