Toronto: Bernal just says ‘No’

Thesp to star in political satire from Chilean helmer Pablo Larrain

EXCLUSIVE: Gael Garcia Bernal will play an ad exec who changes the course of history in “No,” a political satire from Chilean helmer Pablo Larrain, (“Tony Manero,” “Post Mortem”).

Inspired by true events, “No” takes place before the 1988 referendum staged by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to gain a further eight-year term in office. Adopting a brilliantly upbeat advertising campaign, the “No” campaign won the plebiscite, ousting Pinochet.

“Garcia Bernal’s character will be the guy who had the idea of using a nice, happy, positive message instead a dark one,” said Larrain. “That´s why they won: They didn’t attack Pinochet. They just promised a better and nicer future.”

Screenplay is by Pedro Peirano, inspired in part by “Referendum,” an unpublished play by Antonio Skarmeta, whose 1985 novel “Ardent Patience” was adapted by Michael Radford as “Il Postino.”

“No” will be produced by Chile’s Fabula, founded by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain. Mexico City-based Canana, headed by Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz, will co-produce, while L.A.-based producer Daniel Dreifuss is raising finance for “No” out of the U.S.

Starting Nov. 3, “No” will be shot in a wide combination of formats, from film to 3/4 U-matic video format to high-end HD. The reason: “I want people to feel they’re looking at a film that was shot in the ’80s,” Pablo Larrain said.

“Manero” and “Mortem” established Larrain as one of Latin America’s foremost young art pic directors — but “No” is aimed at a wider audience, Juan de Dios Larrain told Variety. “No” is an epic David and Goliath story, a black comedy with attitude, with a large artistic ambition, multiple street demonstrations and of course Gael Garcia Bernal,” he said.