02/22/2013 06:10 pm ET

Oscar Nominated 'No' Controversy

As far as sacred democratic moments go, the 1988 plebiscite ranks unrivalled in Chilean history. The non-violent triumph of the "no" option by 55.9%, which meant the end of the Pinochet dictatorship after more than 15 years, was a magical era for most of the country, one in which idealism proved to be stronger than fear.

For those in the majority, it was a plain choice between good and evil in the face of human rights violations; and its ethical dimension only grew bigger as years went by and Pinochet's crimes became more established. This feeling of moral righteousness was summarized a few days after the referendum by a famous newspaper headline: "WE WON THE BATTLE WITH A PENCIL!"

Predictably, the fact that the first movie on the referendum was centered on a fictional publicist of the "No"'s famed television campaign (René Saavedra, played by Gael García Bernal) raised more than a few eyebrows. The Oscar-nominated film has been accused of distorting history and of minimizing the role of politicians and citizens in the epic victory. Yet to its director, Pablo Larraín, these reactions came as anything but a surprise.

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