‘No’, Foreign Language Film Oscars 2013



The 2013 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film, ‘No,’ is based on the plot of the never published movie “Plebiscite”, which was finally adapted to the big screens by Pablo Larraín. This is the true story of a marketing campaign that sparked a social revolution in Chile.

The story takes place in Chile, after fifteen years of an oppressive dictatorship. Dictator General Pinochet faced international pressure to legitimatize his regime.  In October 1988 Chile’s citizens were questioned, via popular referendum, about the transition to democracy. The options were: YES, to continue on a new eight-year presidential term, under Pinochet’s dictatorship; or NO, do not allow Pinochet to remain in power as President and schedule a Parliamentary election towards democracy.

The years of torture to Pinochet opponents are depicted in the movie through the character of Victoria, closely related to the main character Rene Saavedra, the mind behind the NO Campaign against Pinochet’s.

For those who are not familiar with the history of Chile, under Pinochet’s government 3,000 opponents disappeared, 30,000 were arrested (torturing thousands of them) and in 1973 at least 200,000 Chileans (about 2% of Chile’s population at the time) were forced to leave their country into exile.

In 1988 Pinochet promises this referendum via the plebiscite: Pinochet’s campaign and its opponents (several parties assembled as the “Coalition of Parties for NO”) are each granted 15 minutes on TV a night for 27 consecutive nights to win the popular vote.

The oscar nominated movie ‘No’ uses real footage from 1988’s campaign. This was one of the reasons why the director decided to use low definition magnetic tape to film. This system was widely used by television in Chile in the 80s. The movie’s art photography takes you back in time through the ads’ washed out colors of 80’s TV.

The Opposition, “Coalition of Parties for NO” trusted a talented advertising creative, René, who gathered a colorful and cheerful campaign under the slogan La alegría ya viene (“Joy is coming”). The movie shows the insides of advertising tactics used in political campaigns, where the final popular decision influenced by a small amount of creative minds can push a whole country to a new period freedom and hope. These TV ads were the only opportunity given to people to overthrow dictatorship.

Like political campaigns nowadays, celebrities appear in the ads supporting ‘No’ including Jane Fonda and Richard Dreyfuss.

Emotional and energetic, this movie will well deserve the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.