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Screening marks coup’s anniversary

The film centers on an advertiser who is asked to convince the public to vote against Pinochet’s rule

History has shown propaganda to be a powerful force — for one country, it even helped to bring down a dictator.

This power was explored in a screening of the film “NO” at Avon Cinema Thursday night, in honor of this year’s 40th anniversary of the military coup that took down Chilean President Salvador Allende and led to Augusto Pinochet’s rise to power. Organized by the Watson Institute for International Studies, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Botin Foundation, the screening is part of a month-long series intended to educate Brown students about the fight for democracy in Latin America during the 1970s and ’80s.

More than 600 tickets were reserved for the sold-out event. The film is “an example of the way people organized to fight against a repressive regime and were successful,” said James Green, professor of history and Brazilian studies. “We hope it informs, educates and inspires students.”

The film follows the fictional Rene Saavedra, a talented advertisement creator. Set during the 1988 Chilean national plebiscite, Saavedra is asked by the “No” committee to provide advice on the marketing strategies needed to convince the Chilean people to vote during the national referendum against eight more years of Pinochet’s rule.

“Between the 40th anniversary of the military coup, the 25th anniversary of the plebiscite and the release of this film in 2012, these three things just come together,” said Kate Goldman, outreach coordinator for the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

At the end of the film, audience members were invited to remain within the theater to participate in a panel with Ricardo Lagos, former Chilean president and professor-at-large, and Genaro Arriagada, leader of the “NO” campaign and former Chilean ambassador to the U.S.

Moderated by Richard Snyder, director of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the panel began with both panelists identifying similarities and differences between the movie and their experiences living the reality.

“I wish it could only be a question of finding a public relations agent,” Lagos said, adding that many other factors were involved in Pinochet’s fall. “It was a long history, and there were many people that used to say that it was impossible to defeat the dictatorship.”

Arriagada said the advertisements were effective because people, “needed a message of hope and non-violence.”

The screening serves as a lead into “Social Media and Political Change in Latin America and the Middle East: Comparative and Historical Perspectives,” a conference taking place Oct. 4, said Andrew Gammon, outreach and development manager for the Watson Institute.

“This movie shows that war is not the only way to fight for civilized rights,  said Yao-Jen Chang GS. “Why can’t anybody do this now?”



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