New Film: Chico & Rita

Spain’s famed director Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque), designer Javier Mariscal, and Tono Errando have collaborated on an animated feature film bringing together sensational music—featuring Cuban classics, jazz, and American bebop— and ravishing visuals; especially lauded are Mariscal’s cityscapes of New York, Las Vegas, Paris, and pre‑revolutionary Havana. The film was recently shown at the 32nd International Festival of New Latin American Cinema. It will premiere in Spain on February 25, 2011.

The action takes place in Cuba, circa 1948. “Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey—in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero—brings heartache and torment. Their intense, sexy but turbulent love affair progresses along with their attempts to make it big—first in Cuba, then in the United States. From Havana to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas, two passionate individuals battle impossible odds to unite in music and love.”

In her article “Festival de cine continúa deleitando corazones,” Yelanys Hernández Fusté (Juventud Rebelde) centers on the Cuban musical tradition that permeates the film, exemplified by Miguel Matamoros’ famous Son de la loma. According to Hernández Fusté, Trueba set out not only to create a film about Cuban music but also about that romantic and magical moment between “two countries that have attracted and influenced one another throughout the years.” About the music and setting, Trueba adds, “it is a beautiful time and locating the story there is very much due to the inspiration of people like Bebo Valdés—who is responsible for the soundtrack. It is also a tribute to his generation.” Thus is presented “the story of Chico Valdés, who feels that his soul is fused to the piano, while Rita Labelle pours her heart into everything she sings. Both fall in love physically and spiritually, and they remain further connected through art.”

Tono Errando explains that it was a great privilege to work with excellent artists such as Idania Valdés (who plays Rita), pianist Rolando Luna (Chico), and percussionist Yaroldi Abreu. As Hernández Fusté states, “Chano Pozo, Tito Puente, and other artists intermingle with Rita and Chico, and between them we find the mediation of Cuban music and jazz as emblems of their love.”

Watch the trailer at 

For reviews, see,, and (in Spanish)

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