Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a movie star welcome today at the Venice Film Festival, where he walked the red carpet with director Oliver Stone for the premiere of the documentary "South of the Border."
Hundreds of admirers, some chanting "president, president," gathered outside of the Casino for the leader's arrival. A few held up Venezuelan flags and a banner in Spanish that read "Welcome, president."
Chavez threw a flower into the crowd and touched his heart, and at one point took a photographer's camera to snap a picture himself. Security outside the Casino was tightened in advance of his arrival with military police checking bags.
Chavez praised Stone's work for depicting what he said were improvements made across Latin America.
"Rebirth is happening in Latin America, and Stone went to look for it and he found it," Chavez told reporters. "With his cameras and his genius, he's captured a good part of that rebirth."
Stone says "South of the Border" is meant to illustrate "the sweeping changes" in South America in recent years as a direct counterpoint to what some say is Chavez's depiction as a dictator by U.S. and European media.