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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Oliver Stone and Dictators

Igor Lopatonok, who promoted pro-Russian narratives about Ukraine and produced Oliver Stone’s lengthy interview with Kazakh strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev, had many other projects in store.


The U.S.-based documentary filmmaker [Igor Lopatonok] already has several controversial projects under his belt. In collaboration with acclaimed Hollywood film director Oliver Stone, he has produced two documentaries on Ukraine that were widely panned as pro-Kremlin propaganda and a hagiographic eight-part mini-series on Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.
As it turns out, he had much more in store. In dozens of documents obtained by OCCRP and Vlast.kz, Lopatonok laid out plans for a series of fawning documentaries meant to burnish the reputations of the autocratic leaders of Belarus, Azerbaijan, and several other authoritarian nations. A key selling point of at least two of these pitches was the involvement of Stone, who would supposedly conduct on-camera interviews with the dictators.
It’s unclear from the documents — which include internal emails and film synopses as well as pitch brochures — whether Stone was on board with Lopatonok’s plans this time around, or even aware of most of them. None of the projects has come to fruition. Stone and his business manager did not respond to requests for comment.
Lopatonok, in an interview with OCCRP last week, said Stone was fully aware that he had proposed documentaries to several dictators, whom he referred to as “my heroes.”
“You will not make any news with that,” Lopatonok said in response to a question about Stone’s knowledge of the pitches. “You know that, right?”

One of the proposed documentaries with Oliver Stone was to be about Azerbaijan strongman Ilham Alivev.


There was also a proposal to make a documentary film about Belarus dictator Lukashenko:


The article continues:

Emails between members of Lopatonok’s team suggest that Stone had agreed to participate in at least one of the projects, the Lukashenko film — until the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which appears to have put a stop to his involvement. (Stone publicly spoke out against the war in March that year, saying that Russia had been “wrong” to invade — although he also argued that Putin had been “baited” into the decision by the United States.)
“Unfortunately, the [Belarus] project was put on pause because of Oliver’s refusal,” wrote producer Igor Kobzev to a crew member in June that year. “All the attempts to find a new interviewer were unsuccessful because of the war in Ukraine (everyone that we contacted refused). I’m in a very difficult situation.” Kobzev did not respond to a request for comment.
Until that roadblock, Lopatonok seemed to have hit upon a promising formula. He had assembled a small team of screenwriters and producers who churned out film ideas to pitch to dictators, making an enticing offer: copious screen time with a world-famous director.
The key to “monetizing” the process was simple, said an insider who worked on the team, and agreed to speak with reporters on condition of anonymity. Lopatonok had figured out how to offer powerful people something they couldn’t resist: Legitimacy on the world stage.
“There’s a star — Stone — who can be sold. That’s it,” the insider said. “They’re being bought for trinkets, only the trinkets are Oliver Stone. The targets jump on it: ‘Oh, I’m with Oliver Stone! I’ll be shown all over the world!’”
This image of Stone as a ticket to worldwide fame may be several decades out of date. Once a critical darling and reliable engineer of box-office success, the Academy Award-winner has more recently been described by Variety magazine as a purveyor of “cantankerous takes.”

Previous Relevant Blog Posts


Some people are noticing that Stone's affair with Nazarbayev is unseemly.


Stone has made an 8-hour documentary about Nazarbayev.


Previous Blog Posts on Oliver Stone's Politics


Stone gets it all wrong again.


Stone fawns over Putin in an interview with Chris Wallace.


Stone sounds insane in an interview with Russell Brand.


JFK Jr. walks out of a dinner with Oliver Stone.


Here is an opinion piece I wrote for the Jerusalem Post about Stone's appearance at the Jerusalem Film Festival.


Even a left-wing newspaper in Israel takes exception to Stone's appearance.


Stone flatters Putin in a Spanish interview.


Oliver Stone is on the side of Russia.


Stone tells the Guardian that Putin is a great leader for Russia.


Stone claims the United States might use a nuclear bomb in Ukraine.


At the Barcelona Film Festival Stone praises Putin and criticizes the United States.


Stone tweets that the United States might use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.


Stone tells Matt Taibbi that if Russia invades Ukraine, it can take what wants in a day.


The Telegraph criticizes Stone's friendship with Putin.


In a radio interview, Stone says the US is at fault for Putin's invasion of Ukraine.


Stone is one of many celebrities who side with Putin.


Stone posts on Facebook that Putin invaded Ukraine because of an American trap.


Putin showed Stone a fake video and Stone fell for it.


A bizarre excerpt from Stone's interviews with Putin.


Stone just repeats Putin's talking points on Ukraine.


Of course, the United States is at fault, according to Stone.


There is unrest in Kazakhstan -- will Stone blame it on the United States?


Stone is against American arms sales to Taiwan.


A journalist tells the truth about Stone's rants.


Stone does not want a free Cuba.


Some people are noticing that Stone's affair with Nazarbayev is unseemly.


Stone has made an 8-hour documentary about Nazarbayev.



Relevant Links on Oliver Stone's Politics















Over the past several months, I have shown in multiple blog posts how Oliver Stone's documentary series, JFK Revisited and JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers. In fact, despite months of work, there are still many more misleading segments that need to be addressed. It's no wonder that the fact checkers of Netflix nixed the airing of the films.


There is a choice between four hours of tendentious nonsense (JFK: Destiny Betrayed) and two hours (JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass). As a handy guide for viewers, here are all those posts in order of their appearance in JFK: Destiny Betrayed and JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, preceded by some general critiques.




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