Pablo Larrain talks the perspective of time, the metaphor of equality, and why politics are always personal.
NO is the story of how in 1988, a group of dedicated and media-savvy people took a sham election in Chile and turned it into a bloodless coup that remains the only modern example of removing a dictator using only the power of the ballot box. The dictator is Augusto Pinochet, who took power in a coup in 1973, and the election to which he reluctantly agreed after overwhelming outside pressure was brought to bear. It was a referendum on whether or not he would continue in office for another eight years, or would call for a free and open election. At the center of the story of Rene Saavendra, an apolitical advertising whiz with a family history of political dissidence. His radical approach to winning over the disenfranchised and the undecided is to focus not on the crimes against humanity of the Pinochet regime, but instead to look ahead with a campaign that promises that “Happiness of Coming.” The film stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Saavendra. Larrain directed from a script by Pedro Peirano, based on the play of the same name by Antonio Skarmeta. NO won the top prize as part of the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes, and was nominated for an Oscar™ as best foreign language film.