“Chico and Rita” Oscar nominees Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal fuse docudrama, animation, and music once again with their latest film, “They Shot the Piano Player.” Centered around the 1976 disappearance and presumed murder of Brazilian pianist Francisco Tenório Jr., the Sony Pictures Classics release stars Jeff Goldblum as an American journalist looking for answers. Watch the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, for the film below.

It’s 2010, and New York journalist Jeff Harris (Goldblum) is working on a book on Bossa Nova after just publishing a piece on its 50th anniversary in The New Yorker. During his research, Harris stumbles upon a pianist previously unknown to him: Francisco Tenório Jr. Realizing Tenório Jr. hasn’t produced or recorded music for over 30 years, Harris travels to Rio de Janeiro to uncover why he vanished from the music scene. He discovers that Tenório Jr., who keeps haunting his Bossa Nova research project, disappeared in Buenos Aires in the 1970s during a tour while accompanying the poet/lyricist Vinicius de Moraes. Harris begins to unearth the sinister reality behind Tenório Jr.’s vanishing and its ties to the South American geopolitical climate of the time, interviewing musicians, acquaintances, friends, and fans in the process.

“A Brazilian pianist who disappears in Argentina? Why? I tried to find out more,” Trueba said in a director’s statement shared with IndieWire. Tenório went out to buy a sandwich — some say cigarettes, others medication, others… It was 2 a.m. on March 18th. Six days before the military coup. But the coup on the 24th was only the official culmination of something that had been on the streets for a while. The regime of Isabelita Perón was taking its last breaths, and in the streets of Buenos Aires, military groups, paramilitaries, and extreme left-wing Peronist guerrillas were waging a silent, undeclared war. Gunshots, bombs, murders, the first ‘disappearances’… But what did all that have to do with a pianist? With a Brazilian pianist?”

The film blends documentary and narrative feature filmmaking as the directors bring to life testimonies from those influenced by Tenório Jr. through animation.

Trueba continued, “For several years, I traveled to different places in Brazil, Argentina, the United States, France… seeking people who could tell me about Tenório, who he was, what he was like, tell me things about his life, his music, his tragic disappearance. After more than 150 hours of interviews with people directly connected to Tenório, one day I decide to start writing the script for ‘They Shot the Piano Player.’ I choose animation as the most suitable language to recreate his life, his music, and his era.”

Sony Pictures Classics releases “They Shot the Piano Player” for a one-week awards-qualifying run in select theaters on November 24. A wider release follows in February 2024.

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