They Shot the Piano Player

Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal

Quest for the forgotten Brazilian bossa nova pianist Francisco Tenório Jr., who mysteriously disappeared during a tour in 1976. An animated combination of celebrating bossanova and the gripping story of a military dictatorship.

While writing a book about the Brazilian bossa nova craze of the 1960s, music journalist Jeff Harris stumbles upon the forgotten pianist Francisco Tenório Jr. He was considered one of Brazil’s most important jazz musicians but disappeared in 1976 under mysterious circumstances during a tour with the Brazilian poet and singer Vinicius de Moraes. The more people Harris interviews about Tenório, the greater his fascination becomes. He is determined to solve the mystery of his disappearance.

To do so, he delves into the dark period when military regimes seized power in many South American countries – including Argentina, where Tenório was last seen in 1976. Directors Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba (Chico & Rita) once again opted for the animated form to shape Harris’s quest. A masterstroke, as it brings an era to life full of colour, exciting music, and optimism about the future. But just as the Brazilian dictatorship abruptly ended the heyday of bossa nova, the country’s greatest jazz pianist also fell victim to political violence. 


Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal
Cristina Huete
Country of production
Spain, France, Peru, Netherlands, The, Portugal
Animation, Documentary
104 minutes
Spoken language
English, Portuguese, Spanish
Production company
Fernando Trueba Producciones, Submarine
World Sales
Film Constellation
Dutch distributor
Periscoop Film