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Film Description

Film Description



A Special Presentation at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival®, this gripping historical drama from director Pablo Larraín stars Gael García Bernal (The Motorcycle Diaries, Bad Education) as a savvy young ad exec in 1988 Chile who is recruited to craft the political opposition’s publicity campaign when the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet is put to a national plebiscite.

In 1988, succumbing to international pressure, Pinochet’s regime called for a national referendum on the proposal to extend the dictator’s presidency a further eight years. The ballot presented two choices: Yes (extend Pinochet’s rule) or No (no more Pinochet). Much of the population believed that the referendum would be rigged, and was merely a front to placate the international community. There was also the problem for many that participating in the referendum would seem to legitimize it. But many in the opposition did not want to pass up this opportunity to peacefully overthrow Pinochet’s near twodecade reign.

Recruited by the “No” side to design their campaign strategy and make use of their designated fifteen minutes per day of airtime, savvy adman René Saavedra (Bernal) realizes that not only does his team have to convince voters to vote “No” — they also have to convince the disparate, isolated segments of the population to go to the polls in the first place. Instinctively understanding that the campaign cannot focus on the pain and suffering the Pinochet regime has caused during its fifteen years in power, Saavedra instead opts for images of happiness and joy, promoting the image of a “new Chile,” complete with a rainbow logo. Heading the “Yes” campaign is Saavedra’s boss, Lucho Guzmán (Alfredo Castro), who goes so far as to offer Saavedra a partnership if he gives up the “No” campaign. As the “No” campaign begins to gain ground, the tension begins to mount between the men as Saavedra and those in the opposition begin to receive death threats.

Completing his trilogy on the Pinochet years begun with Tony Manero and Post Mortem, with No director Pablo Larraín chronicles the fall of the dictatorship, toppled by its own cynical democratic farce that unwittingly released the real democratic yearnings it had managed to suppress for so many years. Engaging, suspenseful and breathlessly paced, No is both a tense political thriller and a vibrant document of Chile’s triumphal return to democracy.


"Part Mad Men in stonewashed denim, part south-of-the-border Paddy Chayefsky, it’s an irresistible story that provides ample material for Larraín’s own deadpan satirical eye." —Guy Lodge,

""No" signals a huge spurt in the filmmaker's growth." - Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

"A decisive transitional chapter in Chilean history yields an absorbing account of one country's unlikely route from oppression to democracy." - David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter


Director: Pablo Larraín
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro
Year: 2012
Runtime: 117 minutes
Country: Chile
Language: Spanish (English subtitles)
Distributor: Mongrel Media

Ratings: ON NR / BC NR / AB NR / SK NR / MB NR / QC NR / Maritmes NR


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