“Richard Nixon, President of the United States, once said about South America, ‘People don’t give a shit about the place.’” So begins The War on Democracy, a polemic criticizing America’s role in overturning several Latin American governments. The man who says that line is the documentary’s star and co-director, John Pilge—a skinnier, less dramatic, less entertaining, British Michael Moore-type. Pilger journeys from Venezuela to Guatemala to Chile (and several countries in between), interviewing the countries’ poor. He also gets some serious face time with Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, and a few former CIA agents and officials, including Duane Clarridge, the CIA chief of the Latin American division in the early ’80s. Clarridge practically screams “Baloney!” at every statistic that Pilger lobs at him. “We’re going to go on protecting ourselves, because we end up protecting all of you. And let’s not forget that,” says Clarridge. “Right, right,” says Pilger. “No, I won’t.” Unfortunately, what Pilger does forget is to focus on storytelling, preferring to recite facts. The film drags, and there are few memorable characters, yet it does remind us of a world that, as Pilger says, rarely enters the national conversation here.
At 3:30 p.m. Also at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 3. Both showings at E Street Cinema.