Gael García Bernal and No Director Pablo Larraín Discuss Oscars, Politics and Why People Don't Vote
In 1988, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was forced to call a plebiscite, allowing the country to vote on whether or not he would rule for another eight years. Based on true events and using the real footage of the ads that ran during this time, the film No, out today, follows René (Gael García Bernal), an advertising executive, as he leads the "No" campaign. He soon finds that the main obstacle is not convincing the Chilean people to vote no -- but to have the courage to vote, period.
This is the third film that director Pablo Larraín has made about the dictator Pinochet -- Tony Manero depicts the most violent period of his dictatorship, and Post Mortem shows its origin. It is not surprising that Larraín would be interested in this subject matter, given that he was born in 1976 in Santiago, Chile, in the middle of Pinochet's reign.
We caught up with Larraín and Bernal at a pre-opening LACMA screening a few weeks ago, a little after they'd found out their film had been selected as one of the Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Film.
Congratulations on the Oscar nomination! Did you do anything to celebrate?
Pablo Larraín: Yeah, we had a little party down there in Chile.
Gael García Bernal: Yeah, I was here, and I was just coming from a very strong hangover in Los Cabos, in California. I was already celebrating before it. But no, we will celebrate the win.
I know you two have been doing a lot of press, so I'll try not to ask you the same questions over and over again.
GGB: You started asking not the usual questions.
PL: But you know, I've been building a whole theory about it -- about culture. Because if you, like, after a hundred interviews, there's eight questions out of ten, and they're the same question, it means just that we're all just worried about the same things. It's something bigger than just the question itself. We're thinking the same direction, and I'm not sure that it's precisely good. I wouldn't say that it's exactly good. I don't know.
GGB: Yeah, well that's interesting, that appreciation. That's true. There is something about being on a highway -- the same highway.
PL: It's like the same perception. It's like, "How this movie... Why did you start thinking about this project? Why did you choose that style?"
GGB: There is this journalist in Mexico, who -- he's very odd because he always asks the questions that nobody else asks, but he always asks the same questions. "How long did it take you to edit?" And you know, very particular questions that you go, "Does it matter? Does it really matter? He really cares for how long it took you to edit?"