Genre and Avant-Garde

Santiago Gonzalez Cragnolino of the 2013 Talent Press Buenos Aires reviews the chilean movie NO by Pablo Larraín, which opened this year's BAFICI Film Festival.

Pablo Larraín's NO.

The Chilean film NO, chosen to start off another BAFICI, reinforces the impression of a festival which is following its usual direction but has made a slight change in its career.

Two new bets in Bafici 2013, two declarations of principles: NO by Pablo Larraín and a new competitive section called “Avant-garde and Genre”. The emphasis – free of euphemisms – put on the label of this new section aims at, as the festival programmers point out, giving visibility to the more radical films and those which fall under the category of genre, generally relegated to the late night screenings.

The previously mentioned NO is an intelligent articulation of both proposals: genre and experimentation. Framed in the historical context of Chile in 1988, in the days prior to a plebiscite which would define the continuity of dictator Augusto Pinochet or give place to democratic elections, Larraín's work can be read as a film of different genres. It may be a historic film, a discreet political thriller, a black comedy, as well as all these at the same time. But even if the director abides by the conventions of genre and may even be associated to classic narrative, it is in the treatment of its actual image where the film finds its most radical expression. The images replicate the texture of VHS with amazing accuracy. This formal twist arouses our curiosity and alters the experience. Are these less than sharp, almost primitive images an allegory of the diffuse historical memory of this country's recent past? They are perhaps an assertion on the relationship between memory and audiovisual consumption and how the latter intervenes in the former. At any rate, NO and its U-Matic flashes are an invitation to look deeper into the film and to watch it repeatedly.

The Chilean film is a good starting point for the cinephile celebration that is the BAFICI: yet another auspicious April for film lovers.