LONDON — The Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows that the United States should follow the example of South American socialists in nationalizing its energy industry, filmmaker Oliver Stone said Tuesday.
The Academy Award-winning director of "Born on the Fourth of July" and "JFK" said that America's country's natural wealth was too important to be left in private hands, telling journalists in central London that oil and other natural resources "belong to the people."
"This BP oil spill is typical" of what happens when private industry is allowed to draw revenue on what should be a public good, Stone said.
"We shouldn't make this kind of profit on oil or on health or on war or on prisons. All these industries should be public industries."
Stone, 63, is in the British capital to promote his documentary, "South of the Border," which tells the story of firebrand Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his left-wing Latin American allies.
The 75-minute film is meant to draw attention to the social improvements ushered in by Chavez, who has nationalized parts of Venezuela's economy, including important bits of the oil sector and big chunks of the banking, electric and steel industries. Bolivian leader Evo Morales, also interviewed by Stone for the documentary, has similarly expanded the state's control over the country's energy infrastructure.
Critics of the film accuse Stone of painting a fawning portrait of the Venezuelan leader and his cohorts, saying the documentary ignores the anti-Chavez opposition – which human rights groups say is being squeezed by a crackdown on private media.
Stone accused critics of "nitpicking," telling The Associated Press Television News that he was trying to offer an alternative view of the regime.
"You hear all the criticism, all the exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking the economy has surged in Venezuela from 2003 to 2008. ... This is a story that people don't know," he said.
The director occasionally digressed during the press conference, discussing Latin American history, sharing his thoughts about President Barack Obama (who he dismissed as "Bush not-so-lite") and musing about the possibility of making a film about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
"I don't know, that's a hot potato for me," Stone said when asked whether a movie about Ahmedinejad was in the works. "Obviously he's gotten a lot of bad press in the West."
"South of the Border" had its U.K. premier Monday at the Curzon Cinema in central London.
(This version CORRECTS "vast swaths" to "parts" in sixth paragraph.)