No – a film about political campaigning

I finally caught up with No Pablo Larrain’s film about the No campaign in the 1988 plebiscite on the presidency of Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Some reviewers have criticised the film for not showing the messy reality of Chile at the time, but that to me is actually a strength of the film. It focusses right in on the political campaigning, giving a specific view on that era of history, giving the film a focussed narrative. It is also fascinating for anyone involved in charity or political campaigning, highlighting as it does the tension between criticising what you are campaigning against (military dictatorship, political disappearances, censorship) and offering people a glimpse of what the alternative future might be (liberty, freedom of speech and a free press). It’s interesting to watch all the creative ideas put forward by both the No and the Yes campaigns and how they react to each other during the month long campaign. The No campaign are particularly aweare that the people they need to reach are the undecided majority, accepting that some people will never vote No and that those who will definitely vote No, need little persuading.Similar to the position many charities hold, that they need to get their message out to those who don’t yet have an opinion (unlike one charity I know, who will remain nameless, who said to me that their communications was ‘only about talking to the people who already know about our work’ which is in many political or charity campaigns a misguided view to say the least.

Also interesting to see how corporate advertising executives work within a political campaign and the tensions this causes with at least some of the longer standing political campaigners.

I particularly liked the No campaign’s idea of a break in the countryside for the team to go hiking together while discussing their ideas before starting out on the campaign proper.

There’s also humour too, both in the dialogue of the film and in the No campaign itself, which ultimately demonstrates how to create a light-hearted and sometimes humourous idea that still makes a serious point and doesn’t disrespect or betray the suffering that went on under Pinochet.

It’s a great film, thought provoking and entertaining and well worth seeing if you are involved in campaigning.

No is showing at Edinburgh Filmhouse until Monday 6 May.

As ever, bold text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.


About julietwilson

This is my professional blogging account. My personal blog is Crafty Green Poet (

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