Behind the scenes of They shot the piano player

Behind the scenes of They shot the piano player

Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal tell the story in this animated documentary chronicling the life and mysterious disappearance of a long-forgotten Brazilian pianist, Francisco Tenorio Jr.

Had you already heard of Francisco Tenorio Jr before launching into They shot the piano player ?

Fernando Trueba: Absolutely never!

How then did you know him?

Fernando Trueba: In 2004, I filmed a documentary in Salvador de Bahia, The Miracle of Candeal. But at that time, they were reissuing a lot of Brazilian music from the 60s which had long been unobtainable. And it was by purchasing several of these records that I discovered this pianist whose name I had never even heard. So I started to find out about him. To discover that he had disappeared suddenly and mysteriously six days before the Argentine coup of 76, country where this Brazilian pianist, pillar of bossa nova, lived. Then while talking with my friend Caetano Veloso, I learned that they had a project together which did not happen precisely because of his sudden death. His life began to obsess me and so I started doing filmed interviews. In the idea of ​​a book or a documentary. I made 140 between 2005 and 2007. Then I put all that aside to make The bailey of Victoria And Chico and Rita with Javier Mariscal.

And how do you return to history by Francisco Tenorio Jr?

FT: Thanks to Chico and Rita ! I told myself that animation was going to be the most appropriate form to tell this story because by going through the documentary, I would have simply followed up with interviews with people talking about a dead person, interspersed with archives. It would have given Francisco no favors and would have made him experience, in a way, a new injustice after he was murdered and forgotten. Whereas the animation would allow me to bring him back to life, show him with his family, play with his musician friends. So I started dreaming about it. Without telling anyone about it for months because I thought that little by little this obsession would leave me. But as the months passed, I thought about it more. So I ended up talking about it with Javier, who I’ve known since 2000 when we worked together on Calle 54.

How did you react ?

Javier Mariscal : Besides the joy of working with Fernando, this story immediately fascinated me. I liked the idea that with this film we were going to forget about oblivion! That we were finally going to bring Francisco back to life, allow us to hear his music again.


Why did you choose an American journalist to carry out this investigation on screen?

FT : The idea came to me at the beginning of writing. It would help me make this story more understandable because the spectators would be able to experience it with him, to the rhythm of what he discovers.

What changes the most when you write an animated film script?

FT : Basically not much. Because, when writing, my obsession was for it to be very cinematic with a very comic book side. Mix these two aesthetics and find the right marriage. Javier worked for a year before starting animation.

J.M. : I liked this idea that we had to invent something in the field of animation for adults which still remains here, unlike France, a poor relation of the genre. To make an investigation film, a musical film, a film noir at the same time. And as Fernando does not come from the world of animation, he is not formatted and goes out of the box

FT : What is the point of me coming to this field and doing entertainment like the others? On the other hand, it gives more work with Javier who has to draw a lot more things than in a classic animated film. He worked for a year before actually starting the animation with this brilliant idea of ​​associating each speaker with a dominant color. Which ultimately gives the screen this abundance of colors.

Why did you call on Jeff Goldblum to lend his voice to the journalist leading the investigation?

FT : I toured with him in 1989 The Dream of the crazy monkey in Paris. We became friends and always stayed in touch. As soon as I started writing this script, I gave the character his first name because I dreamed of him doing so. Because in addition to his talent and his magnificent voice, he is someone who plays – and very well – the piano. So it made a lot of sense and I was lucky that he was free and accepted!

They shot the piano player. By Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal. With the voices of Jeff Goldblum, Roberta Wallach, Tony Ramos… Duration: 1h43

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