Directions for Peace

Fah Thai Inflight Magazine of Bangkok Air, March 1st, 2010

Directions for Peace

Big-heart to heart with Oliver Stone, storyteller extraordinaire

It was clear as soon as filmmaker Oliver Stone began to address the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Thailand (on filmmaking and peace-building as part of “Bridges: Dialogues towards a culture of peace”) that the evening was not going to be a preach-fest, doling out impossible solutions – this was an idea exchange. It’s easy to be cynical about the future, Stone told us. When I met the celebrated director over breakfast the next day, I realised was the polar opposite of cynical and that throughout his life, as an English teacher in Vietnam, a war veteran and a filmmaker, he has remained full of hope, optimism and positivity.

“I think through all my travels I’ve seen a commonality in all people; as different as we are, we have certain basic needs, and people do have a heart. There are always some ignorant and mean people, but I truly believe that the world is populated with good people.” It is this conviction that keeps Stone going and is probably why he found himself halfway across the world, honouring his commitments to “Bridges” while he battled with his manic schedule, taking time off from shooting the much-anticipated Wall Street 2, inspired by the 2008’s financial meltdown in the US, as well as a 10-part mini-series, Oliver Stone’s Secret History of America.

Stone admits he feels privileged to be part of Bridges, given the numerous (21) Nobel Laureates associated with the programme and the honourable causes it strives for. He was especially excited about communicating to the youth in Thailand and Cambodia. Simply put, he says:”it’s good for my soul.”
Stone’s own film have been testament to his strong beliefs and personal encounters, “I was always a story teller,” he admits; at 19 he wrote his first book, but it was never published. After fighting in Vietnam, he returned to the US to study film and learnt to tell his stories in a different way. According to Stone, everything in life has a narrative and a filmmaker is fortunate to have the luxury of time to observe, understand and edit patterns of human behavior before turning them into a movie.

“when you become an older filmmaker you have different interests, you try to sum up and say things that really matter to you.” And while he can’t define it, Stone hopes to one day make a film on the nuances of living – capturing its very texture.

His distinguished list of films include Academy Award-winning Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July, both of which were based on the Vietnam War. Other prominent movies-with-a-message include Natural Born Killers, Heaven and Earth and the recent W, based on former US President, Georges W Bush. “I thank god I have been able to make films that I always wanted.” says Stone, who has often encountered much controversy for his work. Never undeterred, he calls it a categorisation that he has come to accept.

In the end, Stone affirms that fundamentally we’re all alike, all wanting happiness and peace in some form, and that we need to learn to live with each other and our environment. For his part, Stone will continue his message through the best medium he knows – film. “I feel I can say something that needs to be said with my own unique way of making movies.” For more information:


‘Bridges’ – Dialogues towards a Culture of Peace is organised by The International Peace Foundation, a non-religious, non-political group headquartered in Vienna, with 21 Nobel Laureates supporting its cause. The event started its tour of Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines in November 2009 and will continue until April 2010.

March 8–11, Phnom Penh and Manila
Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano), Dimitri Ashkenazy (clarinet) and Vovka Ashkenazy (piano), take part in a concert for a culture of peace.

5–9 April, Phnom Penh
Professor Francis Barre-Sinoussi (Nobel Prize for Medicine, 2008) on the future challenges in HIV/AIDS prevention and therapy.

21–23 April, Phnom Penh, Bangkok and Manila

President of Timor Leste, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 1996).