The general public does not know his name. However, Francisco Tenorio Jr. known as “Tenorio”. the Brazilian has a huge aura in jazz and bossa nova circles. Fame fueled by the mystery of his disappearance: prodigy and virtuoso pianist, “the greatest of bossa nova » say the experts, he suddenly “evaporated” in Buenos Aires, at the age of 34, one evening in 1976. The author of a solo album, a talented jazz man, present since the beginning of bossa nova in the early 1960s, played with the best and left his mark on all amateurs and professionals of this musical genre.
But then, what happened? This is the whole purpose of the research on the phenomenon “They Shot The Piano player”. it was presented in September at Festival2valenciennes and this Wednesday in theaters, and which takes a very original form: an animated docu-fiction.
In charge, two big names, veteran friends of Spanish cinema: Fernando Trueba, 69 years old, and Javier Mariscal, 73 years old. At first, they mainly wanted to solve the enigma of Tenorio and started a documentary. Trueba will travel around Latin America and the world, and will film 150 interviews with musicians who have worked with him, famous or not, but also with his friends and family.
Faced with the numerous testimonies and documents in their hands, the two filmmakers decide to change direction: they will write a docu-fiction, starring an American journalist – dubbed by the actor. Jeff Goldblum – Who tries to solve the mystery of Tenorio. Mariscal, which is his specialty, is responsible for visualizing the film, using “economical” animation, but his simplicity ensures that the point is not blurred.
A story interspersed with extraordinary musical sequences
Upon arrival, what a film and what a story! Without revealing too much of the plot, we must understand the historical context in which Tenorio evolved, which will change everything about his destiny: at the time of his disappearance, there were two dictatorships in power, Brazil and Argentina.
Not at all militant, so immersed in his music and his touching story – he is married and a supportive father, but in 1976 he went to concerts in Argentina with a lady – the pianist presents only a physical aspect, with a long beard. hair, which makes him suspect in the eyes of the Argentinian police who arrest young people in the street for no reason. It was the terrible time of the “death flights”, where political prisoners were thrown from airplanes into the open sea at great heights. Tenorio’s mistress will be the last to be seen alive: she went out in the middle of the night to buy sandwiches, never to appear again.
Beyond this incredible research and compelling story, “The Pianist Was Shot” is amazing, circumstantial, in reconstructing the history of bossa nova. Interspersed with extraordinary musical sequences that make the audience dance in their seats, the film gives voice to all those who made this music genre legendary, and beyond.
Redrawn on screen but recorded with real voices, we see the legends of Brazilian music, such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and many others. Everyone remembers Tenorio, an extraordinary figure, a genius player who lived through music and only for music, an essential character who, dying too soon, did not have the chance to fulfill the destiny that should have taken him very far…
Spanish animated docu-drama by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, with the voice of Jeff Goldbum. 1h43