Chico and Rita – A Cuban jazz love story

Sep 20, 2012

The animated film Chico y Rita was released to DVD this week.  It's been playing in the UK and in film festivals world-wide for two years, to glowing reviews. It was nominated Best Animated Feature Film for the 2012 Oscars.

The story is set in 1948, a time of musical experimentation.  Director Francisco Trueba wanted to capture the era:

"... a definitive moment in the evolution of jazz music.  It was the moment when new musicians came along like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie with a new kind of music, that is not for dancing, full of notes, played really fast, a music that now we call jazz.  Then the Cuban musicians arrived…"

Trueba sees the film as a multi-layered love story:

  • the love story of Chico, a young pianist, and Rita, a young singer
  • the love story of two towns: Havana and New York
  • the love story of Cuban music and American jazz
  • the love story of movies and music

The distinctive design of Chico y Rita is credited to Trueba's friend, artist Javier Mariscal, who also designed the poster, album covers and artwork for Trueba's other must-see musical film, Calle 54.

Trueba called on another friend, a “granddad” of Cuban jazz, Bebo Valdes, to provide the music for the movie:

“Chico & Rita's music is my friend Bebo Valdés's final work. Having completed the film, the greatest Cuban musician alive retired at the age of 92. The film is dedicated to him. He was our inspiration. The movie is homage to Bebo but also to Cuba and its music.”

Here's the trailer.  See it for the music, if nothing else.