Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a movie star welcome 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 Monday. A few held up Venezuelan flags and a banner in Spanish that read "Welcome, president," The Associated Press reports.
In Venice, two protesters carrying anti-Chavez placards were refused entry while a team sporting a huge "Bienvenude Presidente" banner were waved inside the theatre to join the mushrooming crowd.
Tilda Swinton walked by, followed by screenwriter Tariq Ali, before Stone and Mr Chavez emerged from their car. The president, surrounded by an army of bodyguards, seemed to revel in the adulation and separated from his protection to throw a flower to a pretty girl in the crowd.
Mr Chavez spent 30 minutes on the red carpet signing autographs and posing for photos before being ushered into the auditorium where he was given a standing ovation. As is the norm at film festivals, the biggest star was given the final introduction and Mr Chavez rose from his chair and waved to the crowd, who started singing his name, Independent reports.
Talking about Chavez, who he interviewed for the film, Stone said: "He's a guy you should meet and get to know... He's the star of the movie."
Hundreds of Chavez admirers, some chanting "president, president," gathered outside of the venue for the his arrival.
A few held up Venezuelan flags and a banner in Spanish that read "Welcome, president."
Chavez praised Stone's work for depicting what he said were improvements made across Latin America, The Press Association said.