Recreate horror from the beauty of bossa nova. Reconstruct the story, hard and dark, from the soft stroke of a simple pencil. Imagine a bright future from the thickness of the past. All that wants to be They shot the pianistan animated film that is at the same time a tragedy, thriller, pure music and, if necessary, documentary. It is reality and, in effect, it is desire. But, above all, the latest work by Fernando Trueba in the company of Javier Mariscal (or the second collaboration of the two after Boy and Rita, depending on how you look at it) is living memory. Not only does it recover an unjustly forgotten story, but it also, in its own way, brings order to the images, sounds and passions of an entire life. They shot the pianist It brings together, as perhaps never before, all the filmmaker’s obsessions and offers them to the viewer as a festival of light and also pain. It is celebration and it is mourning.
“The truth,” the filmmaker begins as a prologue, “is that I have been with the project for too long. I remember when we were filming The Miracle of Candeal, back in 2004, I heard something from a certain Tenório Jr. That was my first contact with him. He excited me and I started looking for records. I finally got one on eBay. I think it was Japanese. Then, I don’t really know how, I found out that he disappeared. Something didn’t add up to me. What was this about a Brazilian artist who was murdered in Argentina? Was he a militant? Was he a politician? He became a kind of obsession. Talk to Caetano Veloso and with some more. And so I discovered that everyone had a very clear idea of him. I couldn’t get it out of my head and, in fact, there was no dinner or meeting with friends where I didn’t bring it up. I became a real plastica.” Pause. “The fixation began to take shape to the point that I went everywhere with the camera and didn’t miss an opportunity to record an interview here or there; at the Rio Festival or at the San Sebastián Festival…”.
And so for more than 15 years the history of the pianist Francisco Tenório Junior has accompanied the director in a more than just obsessive way. Trueba tells, he does it with his fingers, the five films that have made up his filmography while that of the pianist was mutating and changing form: first a documentary with more than 150 hours recorded through more than fifty interviewsthen a fiction, later both… and so on until it became what it is: an animated hybrid between the dream and the fable of everything good about both the cinema of the author of Belle Epoque like, in a hurry, the director’s own life. “There was always something else to do that was more urgent, even though the fundamental thing was always this film,” he says.
To situate ourselves, They shot the pianist tells, recounts and remembers the life, work and death of an artist who was for more than a moment, back in the 60s and 70s, one of the most prominent figures of the effervescent Brazilian music scene that completely determined the popular culture of the moment. The narrative advances in the form of an enigma determined to find the hidden key and the ghost of a disappearance. In 1976, while he was touring a Buenos Aires taken over by the coup military, one night when he went out to buy “a sandwich and an aspirin” unaware of the imminent danger, Tenório Júnior was never heard from again. And it is there, in the mystery and injustice of that mystery, where the film takes advantage to surprise, hurt and, despite everything, marvel.
“Then there is another issue that intrigues me,” he points out, “and that is the ignorance in which Spain has lived with respect to Brazilian music. That is another form of forgetfulness. That era can be comparable to the one lived in Paris at the time. of the surrealist movement. Musicians like Tenório Júnior created new sounds and harmonies by putting in a shaker elements from Brazilian popular music, European impressionist music and American jazz. All relevant American musicians of the time were influenced by bossanova , from Ella Fitzgerald to Sinatra. It was a world revolution… And yet, here we didn’t even realize it. We believed that Brazilian music was the South American Three. We are still, in fact, very lost.”