Sony Pictures Classics announced Tuesday morning at the Cannes Film Festival that it had acquired North American rights to the buzz dramedy. Though it had played the comparatively smaller Directors' Fortnight section, "No" had been attracting festival-goer interest and critical attention since it screened in the early days of the event. The Times' Kenneth Turan was a strong supporter of the film.
Directed by Pablo Larrain ("Tony Manero") and set in 1988, "No" stars Bernal as Renee Saavedra, a Chilean advertising executive recruited by the opposition after dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum on his presidency.
Floundering with dour campaigns about human-rights abuses, the opposition (nicknamed "No") hopes Saavedra can bring a little flash to the campaign; much of the movie then unfolds as Saavedra's jazzy approach collides with the opposition's serious one.
The movie also explores Saavedra's complicated home life, with his wife a more serious opposition ideologue.
Shot to look like a 1988 VHS movie, the film has elements of comedy, satire and drama. It's based on a true story, with Pinochet eventually losing the election.
In an interview with 24 Frames, Larrain said he wasn't concerned about the esoteric subject matter. "I think a lot of people outside Chile know a little about Pinochet but they'd like to know more," he said. "They know the story of how he got in, but they don't know how he got out."
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Gael Garcia Bernal in "No." Credit: Cannes Film Festival