Participant boards Spanish-lingo ‘No’

Company makes first foreign-language film investment

Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media has made its first foreign-language film investment, financing Gael Garcia Bernal starrer “No,” from Chile’s Pablo Larrain (“Tony Manero,” “Post Mortem”).

Participant has acquired worldwide rights to “No” outside Chile and Mexico; it is looking to partner with a U.S. distrib for theatrical release.

Paris-based sales company Funny Balloons will handle international, introducing “No” to buyers in Berlin.

Inspired by true events, “No” takes place around Chile’s 1988 referendum staged by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to gain a further eight-year term in office.

Garcia Bernal plays an advertising exec who devises a brilliantly upbeat campaign to end Pinochet’s dictatorship.

“We were immediately drawn to ‘No,’ and with such a historically important story as the end of the Pinochet regime, we also believe audiences from around the world will share our passion for the project,” said Jonathan King, exec VP of production at Participant Media.

“No” is produced by Chile’s Fabula, founded by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larrain. U.S./Brazil-based Daniel Marc Dreifuss also takes a producer credit. It has just wrapped principal photography in Chile.

” ‘No’ is a step up in scale for Pablo Larrain, an epic David and Goliath story, laced with comedic moments,” said Funny Balloons’ founder Peter Danner. “Latin America has highly talented directors and some — like Larrain — are now reaching out to wider audiences, without compromising their artistic ambitions.”

King added that Participant Media would consider financing other foreign language films if “No” is successful.

“Participant Media is mostly known for American movies — “Contagion,” “The Help” — but ‘No’ is a Chilean story in Spanish which has such resonance all over the world because of what’s going on with democracy movements in the Middle East and Russia,” King said.

Participant Media COO Jeff Ivers and senior VP of business Gabriel Brakin negotiated for Participant with Juan de Dios Larrain and Dreifuss.

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