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Chavez brings chaos to Venice

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chavezThe biggest star at this year’s Venice film festival has arguably been Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Sure, George Clooney and Matt Damon have got the crowds going and can cause a minor media scrum with little effort, but Chavez and his large entourage of aides and guards is another matter altogether.

In town for the world premiere of Oliver Stone’s documentary “South of the Border”, Chavez looked the part on the red carpet and giving interviews at a swanky hotel on the Lido waterfront. Spare a thought for the handful of reporters given a coveted slot with the leader, though. We were originally down to speak to Chavez and Stone at around 5:30 p.m., but, after a series of false alarms, we were moved to a different venue and eventually ended up speaking to them well after 10 p.m.

At one point guests at a party at the plush “Des Bains” hotel (scene of the Visconti classic Death in Venice) were not allowed into the building because of Chavez’s security, but the problem was quickly resolved.

Chavez, looking every bit the movie star, was all smiles and charm, shaking hands with onlookers and reporters who wanted to meet him. Little wonder he looked happy — he will presumably be delighted with Stone’s overwhelmingly positive portrait.

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