Chile’s 1988 plebiscite on Pinochet’s rule is astounding to me because it’s one of the rare times a dictator has voluntarily stepped down after losing a fair vote. No is a 2012 Chilean film that follows an advertising executive brought onto the No campaign, who successfully helps with the victory, but at the cost of his own previously safe existence under the Pinochet regime. It has the urgency and momentum of a campaign, but with the emotional depth that even a “win for the good guys” is usually tempered by reality.
The setting of 1988 is pitch-perfect, including using actual No campaign ads and filming the movie itself with old 80s video cameras to get that specific patina. The actual content of the film stirred much debate in Chile – questions were raised about the focus just on the television campaign over the real life grassroots work that went into securing the vote, as well as on all-powerful marketing over people’s real political desire for change. Still, it is a powerful, complicated movie that does not wrap up on the “happy ever after” as you think it might – just like in the real world.