“The people have made history,” Hugo Chávez says to a faithful comrade upon his triumphant return to the presidential palace in Caracas. After everything we’ve seen in the preceding hour his words seem to define the spirit of the moment, which also pervades this account of a tumultuous chapter in the history of Latin America.
When filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain start following the left-wing Venezuelan president Chávez, he has been in power for three years. The deprived inhabitants of the favelas worship him, while the wealthy upper class that has close connections to the oil industry considers him dangerous. The thorn in Chávez’s side, however, is the treatment he receives from the media. Though he delivers his weekly show on state television, the five private channels crush the president with fierce criticism on a daily basis.
The film takes an unexpected turn when an anti-Chávez demonstration escalates into a coup. The media turn out to play a crucial role in the events—and in subsequent years, this film would start to occupy its own position in that arena.