The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
Pablo Larrain's film on resistance in Pinochet's Chile brilliantly captures the message of hope which toppled the fascist dictator
Thinking of organising a referendum? Then get along and see NO, a powerful Chilean film dealing with the 1988 referendum that led to Pinochet being forced to relinquish power.
Produced and directed by Pablo Larrian it's the final part of a trilogy that began with the coup in 1971 (Tony Manero) and the brutal aftermath (Post Mortem).
The sheer horror of the first two films is slowly transformed in tone as NO illustrates the changing circumstances prompted by the pressure on Pinochet to clean up his image.
The proposition is simply vote yes or no for the president to continue.
Obviously the fascist junta thinks it's immune, since it controls the media and can fix the result.
Many veterans are suspicious and urge a referendum boycott since it would only serve to give Pinochet a false legitimacy.
Yet the clandestine Communist Party sees a possibility to create a coalition of the 16 quarrelsome opposition parties to finally work together towards a common goal.
So Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), a successful advertising executive, is approached to come up with a campaign that carries a message of hope.
It's contained in a 15-minute TV slot, which has to be some spectacular if it's to compete with daily government propaganda.
Looking at all the brutal footage of the past, Saavedra suggests inverting the negatives and presenting a positive image promising that "happiness is coming if you vote NO!"
The relationships between the main characters create the image of a divided family desperate to reunite
Saavedra's former boss Lucho Guzman (Alfredo Castro) represents the yes camp and his estranged wife and mother of his child (Antonia Zeegers) those who are sceptical.
Larrain interweaves the political and personal narratives brilliantly and his use of vintage U-matic video to match the archive film-footage heightens the sense of realism
The secret of the opposition's success is shifting the political terrain. They don't attack Pinochet, they appeal to the democratic heart of the Chilean people.
Required viewing for infantile leftists.
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