Sometimes it’s hard to remember that stuff happens down there, below even Mexico, which is a world unto itself and which is unlike our wealthy country that is supposedly free of (too much) excessively rampant drug selling and smuggling. Past the equator, what do we know of that land and its people? The continent is one big jungle, right? And the chaotic government they manage to structure is headed by corrupt blood fiends who put their peso on the wickedness of communism and Marxism and who are plotting to see the demise of the United States in their spare time.

It’s a scary image, but one that Oliver Stone is hoping to correct with his new documentary South of the Border. The award-winning director started his adventure in January 2009 when he spent days in Venezuela. By shadowing and often overshadowing President Hugo Chávez, Stone reveals through informal conversations and tours of the country that South America is not some extension of the USSR. Stone finds himself intrigued by the wrong perception the North American continent has about its southern counterpart.

Like any good investigative journalist, Stone journeys on to the nearby countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador and Cuba where he sits down with each respective leader: Evo Morales, Lula da Silva, ex-President Néstor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo, Rafael Correa and Raúl Castro. His objective is to either find validity in America’s hostility toward its neighbors, or else to convince the public that the embargo on Cuba must end and that Colombia is not a cocaine hot spot.

Ultimately, Stone proves the latter through intimate interviews and by disproving news stories from mainstream American media. In one instance, American news stations manipulate footage to make it appear that supporters of Chavez were killing people who refused to join their side, when in fact both supporters of Chavez and his resistance party were gunned down.

The film is a bit tedious, especially halfway through when leader after leader begin to look and sound the same. Those interested in politics and/or the situation in South America will be able to endure this film much easier than those with no background knowledge of our rocky relationship throughout the years. However, it is an eye-opening exposé of how our media has failed to objectively deliver the news of which the only casualty is our degenerate relationship with those down south.

Grade: B

South of the Border releases in select theaters July 2.