Friday, Apr 18, 2014 03:36 pm est

Don’t say no to Oscar-nominated Chilean film

Posted on February 15, 2013 | by Jeremy Pick

Courtesy of Participant Media

General Augusto Pinochet ruled over Chile for 15 years. In 1988, a referendum was called on his presidency, upsetting the country’s political balance by creating two opposing sides. Those who remained loyal to Pinochet would be voting “si” in the upcoming election, while those who opposed him would be voting “no.” Nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, the appropriately titled “No” explores this intense political situation through the eyes of one man and the steps he must take to free his country.

In his fourth feature film, director Pablo Larraín made the bold decision to shoot “No” on an old U-matic video camera, confining the film to a letterboxed aspect ratio and reducing the overall picture quality. This gives the film a unique visual aesthetic, one akin to a home movie. Though this method can be a bit jarring at first, with the overblown lighting particularly egregious, Larraín’s decision pays off, and it gives him the chance to portray the media of the time period as it was viewed back then, with seamlessly incorporated real archival footage.

Gael García Bernal stars as René Saavedra, an advertising executive who decides to contribute to the No campaign. René is the Chilean equivalent of “Mad Men’s” Don Draper— the handsome, smooth-talker running things from behind the scenes. By day he pitches ads for a brand of cola, but at his core he’s a family man. He cares deeply for his son and fears for the world his child may have to live in one day. He worries about his wife’s continuing exploits among the radicals. Bernal handles the role with care, making the audience quickly sympathize with his character.

Instead of outright exposing Pinochet’s criminal actions, of which there were many, René and his team take a different approach with their campaign. The motto is simple:“Chile: happiness is coming!” René’s ads are enjoyable and creative, a series of jingles and promises for a better future that still manage to address the important issues.

Of course, the opposing side takes note of this strategy. Soon René’s boss, a loyalist to Pinochet and member of the Si campaign, essentially copies all of René’s ads and gives them a loyalist slant. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game between René and his boss, as the two constantly try to one-up each other.

With a compelling story and excellent performance from Bernal, “No” stands as a document of an important moment in history. Not only is it a joy to watch, but it also urges us to stand up for what we believe in and never give up hope, even in the face of those who oppose us. The film signals both a triumphant end and a new beginning for the people of Chile, and definitely deserves its place as an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film. Do yourself a favor and say “yes” to “No.”

Jeremy Pick is a contributing writer. Email him at


Tatiana Baez

Assistant Managing Editor | A CAS junior, Tatiana is studying journalism, environmental science and politics. She’s a bomb editor, as well as the staff’s main source of entertainment because she sings along to every song after 12 a.m. She also writes about culture, science, technology and sex, and her work has been featured in VICE, Motherboard, Elite Daily, amNewYork and others. She enjoys eating Thai food, reading fiction and binge-watching Netflix.

And in case you were wondering how great she really is — “I just can’t get enough of Tatiana” is a direct quote from her EIC at WSN only moments ago.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.