Interview with Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando who with Fernando Trueba co-directed the animated movie Chico & Rita, which won the Cineuropa Prize at the 2010 Les Arcs European Film Festival.
Interview with Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando who with Fernando Trueba co-directed the animated movie Chico & Rita [+see also:
interview: Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando
film profile], which won the Cineuropa Prize at the 2010 Les Arcs European Film Festival.
Collaborating with Fernando Trueba
Javier Mariscal: Tono and I had made a lovely little animation for Compay Segundo before his death. This animation was really great, with the streets of Havana and all the rest. Fernando Trueba said: "It’s magnificent! Why don’t the three of us work together?" And we accepted, of course! We started to think about it: We had my drawings of Havana, a team with Tono who could put these illustrations into motion, and Fernando who really knows how to make films and is very good at music production.
A love story
Javier Mariscal: Chico & Rita is the story of our passionate love for Cuba and especially Havana, a city I know well. We had to make something in the love story vein because boleros, those songs we listened to when we were children and still listen to, are always love stories. Since Fernando really likes 1950s films, we decided to do something with a very classic style.
Secondly, a love story is always about a man and a woman, in this case a male pianist and a woman singer who sings the bolero beautifully. There is a strong attraction between them, but they also go to the "world’s capital" where there are great musicians to play with. At this time in the 1940s-50s, there is a great fusion between New York jazz and Havana jazz and a fantastic mixing with Afro-Cuban rhythms.
Tono Errando: Bebo has had two lives. The first in Cuba, the second when he lived for over 20 years in Sweden, playing piano in a hotel. So the world forgot Bebo Valdés. Then he was rediscovered and Fernando has produced all the records he has made in the last ten years. He’s probably Cuba’s best pianist and he had everything we needed for the film with compositions from the 1940s-50s.
Looking and remembering
Javier Mariscal: We studied the 1940s and 50s a lot. For New York, it was easier with all the films we’ve seen and the many trips I’ve made there. But we still took a short trip there. For Havana, we found old photographs, documentaries and some films, to find out more about people’s movements and their clothes. We also looked to Christian Dior for Rita’s clothes, as well as the cars, design and advertisements. We read books about the history of television and radio at that time, about the organisation of festivals and jazz band performances. There are lots of books, images, and fantastic photographs of jazz and New York.
This was much harder to find for Havana, but it’s a very beautiful city where some traces of that era still remain, despite the destruction. And we can understand their style and method of building houses for there’s a whole philosophy behind it all: the temperature, sun and light. New York and Havana are two cities with big personalities.
Tono Errando: We did a lot of research, but in the end we worked from our memory. That’s what’s in the film and that’s what’s interesting because, taking reality as the starting point, you can imagine what you like. Inventiveness lies in the magic of the end result.
The “ligne claire” style
Javier Mariscal: I wanted to do something with a very cartoon-like look. I thought it would be good to do the two characters with very clear, clean, synthetic, realistic lines, but with almost nothing, only the contours, a bit like Tintin who was drawn by a great master.
Film distribution in Europe
Javier Mariscal: It’s completely senseless that very good films don’t get distributed everywhere in what can be considered the same country: Europe. Strong political decisions need to be made in Brussels to improve the situation. It’s very important because if we don’t, it will all be over.