As the UK emerges from its own bruising referendum campaign, we present a screening of NO — the Oscar nominated dramatization of the 1988 referendum in Chile to decide the future of the country’s military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Rather than focusing on the negative legacy of sixteen years of brutal dictatorship, the ‘No’ campaign enlisted the services of a young advertising executive to present a message filled with the promise of hope and happiness on offer under a new democratic system.
Interweaving documentary footage of the surreally optimistic actual advertising campaign, the film uses a now obsolete video format to seamlessly blend documentary and drama. In doing so, it raises probing questions about both the line between truth and fiction, and the possibilities and pitfalls of direct democracy.
Nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar and starring Gael García Bernal, NO is a funny and inspiring account of a referendum campaign that offers a much-needed lesson from history in the wake of recent campaigns in the UK, Colombia, and Hungary.
Alan Angell, author of Democracy after Pinochet and Emeritus Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, will give an introductory talk to accompany the screening. He was an observer at the 1988 referendum in Chile and ran a programme for academic refugees from Chile to study in the UK. He is an Associate Member of the Latin America Centre, Oxford, and has written on many aspects of Chilean democracy and on the left in Latin America.
Read our companion Opinion Piece: Will the People of Chile Succeed in Rewriting their ‘Dictatorship Constitution’?
The New York Times