Mexican actor Gael García Bernal premiered in Santiago the award-winning film "No" by Chile's Pablo Larrain, with which, he said, he recaptured the joy of moviemaking and again felt it worthwhile.
The film, which opens in Chilean movie theaters on Aug. 9, recreates the weeks before Chile's Oct. 5, 1988 plebiscite when a of majority voted "no" against continuing the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who stepped down two years later.
Because of its historical significance and the rave reviews preceding it - it won an award at the last Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight - the preview of the film shown Monday at several movie theaters around the capital attracted some leading politicians.
In the audience were three former presidents, Patricio Aylwin, Eduardo Frei and Ricardo Lagos, all members of Concertacion, the center-left coalition that defeated Pinochet in the plebiscite and which governed the country between 1990-2010.
After its premiere in Chile, the film whose cast also features Alfredo Castro, Luis Gnecco and Antonia Zegers, will screen in more than 50 countries and in August will be shown at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland.
The feature film is based on the stage play "El Plebiscito" (The Plebiscite) by Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta, who commented Tuesday that "it's a very beautiful work about the peaceful victory of freedom and democracy, and it's a story worth telling."
In the movie, García Bernal plays advertising man Rene Saavedra, the Mexican son of Chilean exiles who goes from political apathy to whipping up an advertising campaign featuring spots on TV to promote the "no" vote.
"I've learned a lot about Chile. I've learned a lot about what happened. I've learned a lot about myself as well, and maybe it's a commonplace in movies, but it seldom occurs on as vast a scale as it has here," the actor said.