Thursday, 19 February 2015

Film Screening and Discussion: "NO"



When: Tuesday 3rd of March 2015, 18:30 hrs
Where: The Lock Keeper’s Cottage
-Light Refreshments will be served-
Sponsored by CGR (in collaboration with CRED)

NO is a thrilling Oscar nominated film that take us back to a momentous time of Chilean history: The 1988 referendum on Pinochet’s dictatorship, when the continuity of the authoritarian regime is put in the hands of Chile’s citizenship, a “Yes” vote would ensure the dictator in his post, a “No” mean the end of the dictatorship. The movie portrays the combat of wills between two ad-men bent on convince the wider Chilean population of their position. In the “Yes” side, we find René Saveedra (Gael Garcia Bernal); in the “No” camp his boss Lucho Guzmán (Alfredo Castro). Every night a fight through the airwaves, 15 minutes for the “No” camp, 15 minutes for the “Yes” camp. 

The film not only offers a reflection on the place of Pinochet´s regime in history –through the lenses of the “Yes” and “No” camp- but on the role of modern advertising and communication methods in campaigning. As much emphasis is put on the debate taking place on the Yes side: Should they try to highlight the atrocities of the regime and risk alienating the undecided voters or should they shift towards a more optimistic campaign focusing on the future and the promises of democracy?

Third on a trilogy of movies on Pinochet’s dictatorship – The director Pablo Larraín, previously helmed “Tony Manero” and “Post-Mortem” – “No” got rave reviews at Cannes 2012, winning the Art Cinema award and being hailed as a masterpiece by some critics. Selected as Chile’s bid for the Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th academy awards it was nominated in December 2013, ultimately losing to Michael Haneke’s Amour.

Do not miss the opportunity to watch this terrific movie: 3rd of March, 18:30 lock-keepers cottage! 


Themes for Discussion:

1.    Capitalism and Democracy
The most ardent advocates of capitalism so often highlight its relationship with Democracy, while not all capitalist countries are democracies all democracies are capitalist countries they’d say. In this debate –so often too much simplified- the dictatorship of Pinochet takes a special role. In first place, by overthrowing Salvador Allende a the first democratically elected marxist that seemed to offer a more nuanced path in the black and white cold war world. In Second place, by the relationship that Pinochet maintained with liberal icons such as Margaret Thatcher, who affirmed that Pinochet “brought democracy to Chile”, and Friederich Hayek, who stated that was preferable a liberal dictator that a democracy without liberalism.

2.    Consent, Democracy, Dictatorship, and Referendum.
Despite the campaign effectively ended Pinochet’s government, the “Yes” side –pushing for continuity- obtained 44.01% of the votes. Which puts forwards an important question, why sectors of the society that in 1973 mobilized to overthrow a legitimately elected government accepted the result of a democratic referendum? A question that loomed over the “No” campaign, that feared the referendum would be rigged.  A question that puts the focus not only on the controversial relationship of plebiscitary elections with populism, democracy and dictatorship, but the underlying conditions that drive a society towards a dictatorship. The renowned political scientist Adam Przeworksy, pointed that no country that has transitioned from democracy to dictatorship has had a higher level of per Capita Income than Argentina in 1975. According to him, upon a certain threshold of economic development the interests that may organise a coup d’état or a revolution have too much too lose.  

3.    Politics and Communication
The movie stirred the debate in Chile, not only re-opening the always present debate on Pinochet´s dictatorship, but by simplifying history and the excessive emphasis put on the advertising side of the “No” campaign and being oblivious to the grass-roots campaign, a point raised by Gerardo Arriagada, the director of the “No” campaign. Claudio Fuentes, a Chilean Political Science Professor, criticized the movie as a celebration of the moment when marketing took over ideas in political campaigning.
These critiques may struck a chord on contemporary Britain, specially a moment where the British Elections seems to be marked by too much on script politicians, and results tend to be explained through “narratives” and so forth rather than on policies and interests.

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