Busted! The feds have fined controversial director Oliver Stone in connection with his travel to Cuba to make documentaries about Fidel Castro. According to a tersely-worded Department of Treasury document from the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) released December 1st, and reported today by Miami New Times, Stone’s Ixtlan production company and four individuals have agreed to pay $6,322.20 to “resolve allegations of violations of the Cuban embargo.” The violations occurred between February 2002 and May 2003. The report continues: “OFAC alleged that IXTLAN and four individuals dealt in services in which the government of Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest incident to the making of a documentary film. The matter was not voluntarily disclosed to OFAC.” Three-time Academy Award winner Stone, of course, is no stranger to Cuba; he produced two documentaries on the country’s leader. Comandante, a too-friendly look at Fidel digested from 30 hours of candid interviews that Stone conducted in Havana, had been planned to air on HBO, but the cable channel yanked it from the 2003 schedule after Castro jailed 75 dissidents and executed three men who had attempted to hijack a ferry. The documentary was overwhelmingly panned not just for its sympathetic POV but even more for Stone’s dumb questions and smarmy presence. The director ultimately went back to the island for more footage and the result was Looking For Fidel which did finally run on HBO in 2004. Under U.S. rules, journalists can legally travel to Cuba, but a 2004 interview with Stone revealed that he didn’t consider himself a journalist when he interviewed Castro for the movies. Speaking with reporter and Cuba expert Ann Louise Bardach, Stone admitted: “My role here was not as a journalist. It really was as a director and filmmaker.” Stone has had brushes with the law before: in 1999, he was arrested and pleaded guilty to drug possession and no contest to driving under the influence; he was arrested again in 2005 for marijuana possession.
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