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They Shot the Piano Player

While writing a book about the Brazilian bossa nova craze of the 1960s, music journalist Jeff Harris came across the forgotten pianist Tenório Jr. He was considered one of Brazil’s leading jazz musicians, but he mysteriously disappeared in 1976 during a tour with Brazilian poet and singer Vinicius de Moraes.

The more people Harris questions about Tenório, the more his fascination grows, and he becomes determined to solve the mystery of Tenório’s disappearance. This means delving into the dark period when military regimes seized power in many South American countries—including Argentina, where Tenório was last seen in 1976.

To relate the story of Harris’ quest, directors Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba (Chico & Rita) once again chose animation. This is a masterstroke, because it brings to life a colorful era of optimism and exciting music. But just as the heyday of bossa nova was abruptly ended by the Brazilian dictatorship, the best jazz pianist the country had ever known also became a victim of political violence.

Selected for Signed at IDFA 2023