Sony Pictures Classics has picked up rights to the animated feature They Shot the Piano Player for the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Scandinavia, India, the Middle East, Turkey, Southeast Asia (excluding Taiwan and South Korea) and airlines within the aforementioned territories. The film from Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, two of the directors behind the Oscar-nominated animated feature Chico and Rita, is set up for a fall awards push from SPC.
Narrated by Jeff Goldblum, They Shot the Piano Player follows a New York music journalist who goes on a quest to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of young Brazilian piano virtuoso Tenorio Jr. A celebratory origin story of the world-renowned Latino musical movement Bossa Nova, the film captures a fleeting time bursting with creative freedom at a turning point in Latin American history in the ’60s and ’70s, just before the continent was engulfed by totalitarian regimes.
Pic’s acquisition marks the second collaboration between Sony Pictures Classics and Trueba on the heels of 1992’s Academy Award winner Belle Époque. The film is produced by Cristina Huete of Trueba PC (Chico and Rita) in Spain, along with Serge Lalou for Les Films d’Ici (Josep) in France, Janneke van de Kerkhof for Submarine Sublime (Buñuel in the Labyrinth of Turtles) in the Netherlands and Humberto Santana in Portugal. The exec producers are Nano Arrieta of Atlantika and Fabien Westerhoff of Film Constellation. Also of note is the Brazilian music the film features from such artists as João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Vinicius de Moraes and Paulo Moura.
Film Constellation co-financed the film and is handling worldwide sales, selling remaining territories at Cannes.
Said Trueba in a statement on the acquisition, “This film has been a 15-year investigation of mine into the life of a musical genius, whose life was unjustly taken by the military coup back in the 70s. I am delighted to celebrate his legacy with the luminous animation of my accomplice Javier Mariscal. We can’t wait for the world to discover his life and music with our friends at Sony Pictures Classics.”
“This movie promises to be one of a kind! A gorgeous animated documentary filled with sublime color and music about a search for the truth about an amazing musician lost in history,” added Sony Pictures Classics. “It’s great to be back again with Fernando and Cristina with another winner.”
The deal was brokered with Westerhoff on behalf of the filmmakers.