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They Shot the Piano Player film image

They Shot the Piano Player

Dispararon Al Pianista

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Chico & Rita team Fernando Trueba and animator Javier Mariscal return with another animated musical docu-fiction, this time focussing on the story of Francisco Tenório Jr, a brilliant Brazilian pianist who was murdered while touring Argentina in 1976, at the age of 35. Was this a random act of violence, or an extension of the totalitarian crackdown on artists and dissidents rife throughout South America at that time? The movie is not just a political mystery thriller and Tenório was much more than a victim. A prodigious jazz samba player, he emerged with the blooming of Bossa Nova in the 1960s, allowing Trueba to celebrate the sounds of João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Vinicius de Moraes, and Paulo Moura (several of whom also share their memories of the pianist).

Jeff Goldblum voices the character of an American journalist who sets out to write a book about the Brazilian music of the period but who becomes obsessed with Tenório’s story (a stand-in for Treuba himself), while Mariscal’s Rotoscope animation adopts strikingly different hues for different timeframes: rich and saturated in the nightclub scenes, near monochrome when the authorities detain and torture Tenório.


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Jeff Goldblum, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Joao Gilberto, Vinicius de Moraes

Country of Origin







In English, Portuguese and Spanish with English subtitles

Film Contact
103 min
Animation Art, Music & Photography Documentary Human Rights & Social Justice

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Executive Producer

Nano Arrieta, Fabien Westerhoff


Cristina Huete


Fernando Trueba


Fernando Trueba headshot

Fernando Trueba

Fernando Trueba (Madrid, 1955) made his debut with Ópera prima (1980), the film revitalized Spanish comedy, garnered awards at the Venice and Chicago festivals, and achieved great box-office success. This marked the beginning of a long career filled with triumphs. El año de las luces (1986) Trueba won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Festival and the first of numerous Goya awards. In 1992, he received the Oscar© for Best Foreign Language Film with Belle Epoque (1992), which also won the Bafta and 9 Goya Awards. Chico & Rita (2010), his first animated film in collaboration with Javier Mariscal, once again took him to the Hollywood Academy Awards, and was the first Spanish film nominated for the Oscar© for Best Animated Film.

Filmography: Ópera prima (1980); El año de las luces (1986); Belle Epoque (1992); Chico & Rita (2010); The Artist and the Model (2012)

Javier Mariscal headshot

Javier Mariscal

Javier Mariscal (Valencia, 1950) first gained recognition in the 1970s for his cartoons. During the 1980s he stood out for his work in industrial design, with one of his most highly regarded pieces being the “Duplex” stool, created alongside his interior design for the Valencian Bar of the same name. In 2009 he held an exhibition of his work at the Design Museum in London, and released two monographs: Mariscal Drawing Life and Sketches. In 2010 he released the animated feature film Chico & Rita, directed by Fernando Trueba. His recent projects include a retrospective in Seoul, the graphic image for the La Mercè festivities in Barcelona, and the graphics, interior design, and sculptures for the Les Glòries shopping center.

Filmography: Chico & Rita (2010)

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