‘No’ Oscar nomination boosts Chile’s film industry Foreign filmmakers discuss craft

SANTIAGO, Chile, Jan 13, (AP): Chile is getting its first shot at an Oscar for best foreign-language film, along with global attention and a boost to its thriving film industry with the nomination of “No.”
News of the film’s nomination last week was widely celebrated by Chileans, but also had been expected by many since the movie became a surprise hit at Cannes.

“No” revisits a publicity campaign that helped oust Gen. Augusto Pinochet from power after 16 years as a dictator.

Gael Garcia Bernal plays Rene Saavedra, a formerly exiled advertising hot shot drawn into a 1988 referendum TV campaign who tries to persuade people to vote “No” to eight more years of Pinochet.
Selling the idea that positive change could end the regime, his character uses ads that feature catchy jingles, a rainbow graphic and dancing Chileans in a variety of guises — from cowboys and housemaids to cooks and miners.

“I had a great time doing this,” Garcia Bernal said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he’s filming a short with his close friend and fellow actor, Diego Luna, in collaboration with Chivas Regal whisky.

“The fact that I played an exiled man is something very common in Chile because the dictatorship provoked this type of returns,” he added.

The ad campaign worked in real life. Pinochet, who once compared himself to the best Roman emperors, was ousted when 55 percent of people voted “no” to continuing his rule. His removal paved the way for Chile’s return to democracy and more than two decades of economic prosperity.
“Dictators are not usually ousted through democratic elections, and this is a profoundly human story, which was resolved through things that have to do more with beauty than with horror,” director Pablo Larrain told the AP.

Larrain said he’s excited about the nomination because it will entice more people to see the story of one of Chile’s most memorable moments.

“The movie shows how society organized and changed the destiny of a whole country, how a dictatorship was defeated through peaceful means, positive ideas,” Larrain said.

The film’s July premiere in Santiago unsettled many audiences because Chile remains deeply divided over Pinochet’s rule.

Even the mention of his name makes many Chileans cringe with memories of the dictator shutting down Congress, outlawing political parties and sending thousands of dissidents into exile, while his police killed an estimated 3,095.

But to his loyalists, Pinochet remains a fatherly figure who oversaw Chile’s growth into economic prosperity and kept it from becoming a socialist state.

“The movie shows how Chile through the referendum negotiated with Pinochet because we kept his model to the point where we’ve abused a model imposed by Pinochet,” Larrain said.

LOS ANGELES: The makers of three Golden Globe- and Oscar-nominated foreign films shared the secrets of their craft — and admiration for one another — at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s 10th annual Foreign Film Symposium.

Oscar-nominated Swedish filmmaker Lasse Hallstrom moderated the panel featuring “Kon-Tiki” directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Roenning of Norway, “A Royal Affair” director Nikolaj Arcel of Denmark and Austrian director Michael Haneke, whose film “Amour” also earned Oscar nods for best picture, director, actress and original screenplay this week.

“It’s been a very good week,” Haneke said through an interpreter before Saturday’s symposium on the Los Angeles campus of Loyola Marymount University.

Hallstrom, whose film “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is up for best picture at the Golden Globes, asked his filmmaking colleagues detailed questions about their approach to the craft during the 75-minute symposium. Do you rehearse scenes? Do you use editing to alter performances? Do you keep the camera rolling between takes? Do you act out the scenes in your head before directing your actors?
Haneke said he rarely rehearses his actors and doesn’t allow them to improvise. Through storyboarding, he knows exactly where the performers need to be in each scene.

“Because I wrote it myself, I have to, in a way, act it out,” he said. “Otherwise there would be nothing.”
The other filmmakers said they also keep rehearsals to a minimum to preserve the spontaneity of the scenes.

Asked which contemporary filmmakers they admire, the 40-year-old Arcel pointed to Haneke and said, “This guy.”

Sandberg, 41, and Roenning, 40, also said they’ve been inspired by their colleagues on stage.
“I’m sitting between Haneke and Hallstrom,” Roenning said incredulously.

Haneke refused to answer, because he said whomever he neglects to mention would be upset.


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