Speaking Upbeat Truth to Power: Gael Garcia Bernal confronts tyranny with a smile in NO.
Turns out the will of the people rather closely resembles that of the Pepsi Generation. In 1988, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was forced to stage a plebiscite on his administration, allowing his subjects to vote YES or NO on continuing his rule for another eight years. When Pinochet briefly opens up the television airwaves to his opposition, his adversaries call upon RenÃ©, a young advertising executive (Gael Garcia Bernal), to run the campaign. But rather than create a furious indictment of the dictatorship’s many offenses, RenÃ© applies modern marketing theory to offer the viewing public a cheery collection of sketches, commercials, and music videos promising the arrival of happiness once freedom is achieved.
NO, director Pablo Larrain’s slightly fictionalized account of the “No” campaign, provides a stirring and frequently wry glimpse into how a despot was ironically undermined via application of the capitalist philosophy he championed. The film was enough to net Chile its very first Oscar nomination in the foreign language category, and I was able to get some time with Larrain to discuss the project — how it all came together, and what difficulties accompanied his decision to use vintage video equipment to shoot the film. Click on the player to hear the interview.
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