Chico and Rita
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|Chico and Rita|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fernando Trueba
|Produced by||Santi Errando
|Screenplay by||Fernando Trueba
Ignacio Martínez de Pisón
|Music by||Bebo Valdés|
|Studio||Fernando Trueba PC
Magic Light Pictures
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures (Spain)
GKIDS (North America)
|Running time||94 minutes|
Chico and Rita (Chico & Rita) is a Spanish animated feature-length film with Spanish and English languages directed by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal. The story of Chico and Rita is set against backdrops of Havana, New York City, Las Vegas, Hollywood and Paris in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
A gifted songwriter and beautiful singer chase their dreams – and each other – from Havana to New York and Las Vegas. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unite them, but their journey – in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero – brings heartache and torment.
The film was produced by Fernando Trueba Producciones, Estudio Mariscal and Magic Light Pictures. It won the Goya Award for Best Animated Film at the 25th Goya Awards and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 84th Academy Awards (the first time that a Spanish full-length animated film had been nominated).
The first scenes of the film take part in modern-day Havana, Chico, a shoe-shiner ends his day and goes up to his room that overlooks the port. He tunes his radio to the Radio Progreso station which is playing old Cuban hits on a program called Melodies from Yesterday. As he listens the station begins to play a romantic arrangement of "A Taste of Me" (Sabor a Mí). The song, written by Mexican composer Álvaro Carrillo (1921-1969), won a radio contest some 60 years back when it was performed by Chico and Rita. The film then changes back to 1948 and finds Chico and his friend Ramón living as struggling dandies in a low-life bar where they are paired with two American tourists. The musicians at the bar play a ballad with their lead singer, Rita. Chico is immediately taken with her and he wishes to talk to her, but she is already busy with her own American tourist who will not let her leave.
Chico and Ramón go to the Tropicana Club with their lady-friends, where they sneak in through the performer’s entrance. While walking around Chico stumbles upon Rita and her gentleman-friend almost initiating a fight but the Maitre d' overhears that Chico is an accomplished pianist and takes him backstage, since the main event of the evening is missing the pianist and he fills in playing at first sight a new piece by Igor Stravinsky. Chico, initially nervous, ends up performing the piece with aplomb, to the delight of the band. Rita finally agrees to flee with Chico in Ramón’s motorcycle along with the Americans, ditching her own John. After a dangerous chase, the American man finally crashes into a car dealership, giving the others plenty of time to escape. Rita and Chico take their leave from the rest of their party and go to a bar where Chico introduces her to bebop music, which she takes up very quickly; afterwards they go to Chico’s place and spend the rest of the night together. The next day Rita wakes up to find Chico playing a new composition on the piano, which he names “Rita”. As they play and kiss, Juana, Chico’s former girlfriend walks in and ends up in a fight with Rita after which both women leave angrily.
Chico is taken with Rita and does not want to play in an upcoming contest if he cannot perform with Rita, so Ramón, who also is his agent, tracks Rita down and pays her to participate in the contest. After the performance is over, Rita leaves and Chico follows her in Ramón’s motorcycle. He sees that she enters a house where he believes that she lives with a man, but as it turns out it is the house of a santera that had predicted he would cause her much suffering. That night the contest winners are announced, and Rita and Chico win. The prize is a month’s engagement at the Hotel Nacional.
A few weeks later, Chico and Rita are having great success during their performances and Rita’s beauty mesmerizes more than one man, which ignites Chico’s jealousy. One of the admirers, Ron, asks Rita to his table to discuss business. He offers to take Rita to New York City to make her a star, where jazz and Latin music are a burgeoning scene. While Ron tries to convince Rita to go to New York, she insists that the offer must include Chico, as well. Meanwhile, Chico has been watching from a distance and is extremely jealous, believing Rita wishes to leave him for Ron. Rita stands up to talk to Chico but he is already too drunk to understand and leaves in a rage. Even after this Rita insists that the offer should include both. Rita leaves and looks for Chico and goes to his place and waits in the courtyard where she falls asleep. She's awakened by the sound of Chico, completely drunk and barely able to walk, assisted by Juana. She leaves for New York alone as the new lover of Ron.
Chico is depressed but he manages to get enough means to go to New York as well to find fortune. While there he finds Rita and manages to see her but she has become very successful and wishes not to see him again. Chico and Ramón deliver a letter of recommendation that they have received from Chano Pozo’s sister in Cuba which they hope will turn out to be a huge opportunity for them. Chano is receptive and excited to meet them; however, he is involved in drugs and has a short temper. After discovering that he was sold oregano instead of marijuana, Chano attacks his dealer only to be shot and killed by him a while later. In turn, Chico finds work as a party musician and Ramón as an usher at the Plaza Hotel. While at one of his gigs in a party, Chico runs into Rita again, who is flustered by the fact that a white woman has expressed her doubts about having a film made that features a black latino woman as a lead. Chico and Rita run away in her new car that she just got as a gift from Ron. The next day she leaves for California to film the movie. In the meantime Ron has located Ramón and proposes a deal to finance his artist-agency business, as long as he finds jobs to keep Chico away from Rita.
Ramón complies with his end of the bargain and signs Chico with Dizzy Gillespie, who has a gig in Paris and then a European tour. All the while, Rita has become a big star and her film is a huge success. Chico has found a new girlfriend in Paris with a small dog; one morning, while playing “Rita” at the piano, the dog comes in and sits by Chico, who then changes the name of the song to “Lily”, the dog’s name. A few months pass on and Rita is sad despite all her wealth and success, since she is still mistreated socially due to her skin color. While being driven to a set and going through her lines, the radio plays a song she instantly recognizes and is moved to tears but is a bit disappointed to hear that the newest jazz-hit is known as “Lily”. Sometime later, while playing in a bar, Rita comes in and sees Chico playing “Lily”. After the performance is over and as Chico is ready to leave home, he comes across Rita, who asks him about this “Lily”, he teases her about the identity of the mystery female but finally reveals that the song is named after a dog. The two passionately kiss, which is caught in a photograph by a paparazzo, and agree to marry that New Year’s Eve after Rita’s debut in Las Vegas. Chico tells Ramón, who is alarmed that their union shall mean his own ruin and he slips in Chico’s coat a pack of drugs which are discovered during a police search during his own gig at the Palladium in New York. Chico is arrested and deported immediately for Cuba, despite his pleas to make at least one phone call - all the while Rita is waiting for Chico in vain at her motel in Vegas. She keeps drinking and when it is time for her New Year's Eve performance, Ron tells her that Chico has done this before and that she shouldn't be surprised. Ominously, he says to her, 'don't spoil it all now', and she decides then and there to end her career by sabotage. She makes her way to the stage, and in her thick Cuban accent, she begins by wishing the audience a Happy New Year, then goes into her defining moment speech, denouncing racism and the hypocrisy of being a celebrated black artist. Meanwhile, when entering Cuba, Chico’s passport is held by the new Cuban revolutionary authorities and is forbidden to play jazz because it is capitalist music. Disappointed with life, Chico gives up music all together.
Sixty years pass and while shining shoes for a tourist a young man rushes to Chico and tells him that some music big shots are asking very eagerly for him. He reluctantly agrees to go to the recording studio. For the first time in years he plays “Lily” and the singer asks him to join him recording that song which becomes a big hit and takes him in a world tour. After he ends his tour, Chico is allowed again into the United States and he searches for Rita, starting at the places he remembers seeing her in New York. He eventually finds Ron in a nursing home and discovers that his friend Ramón has died but no clues as to Rita’s whereabouts until he goes to Vegas, he knocks on Rita’s door, who has stayed for 47 years in the same motel room waiting for him.
||This section's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (May 2011)|
Director Fernando Trueba met designer and artist Javier Mariscal ten years ago when he asked him to create a poster for his Latin jazz documentary Calle 54. So began a collaboration that saw Mariscal design all the artwork for Trueba's Calle 54 Records, make animated pop promos for the label, and together create a jazz-music restaurant in Madrid. Chico & Rita would be Javier Mariscal’s first animated feature film as designer. The idea to make an animated feature film emerged from one of those pop promos, La Negra Tomasa by Cuban musician Compay Segundo.
Mariscal's younger brother Tono Errando, with a background in music, film and animation, leads the audio-visual side of the multi-disciplinary creative company, and was chosen to collaborate with Trueba and Mariscal. From the beginning, all three men were excited by the idea of making a film set against the Havana music scene in the late-40s and 50s. "That age is beautiful in design and architecture, so visually it belongs very much to Mariscal's world," says Errando.
"And in music it's a moment that's fantastic: it's the moment where Cuban musicians go to New York and join the Anglo Saxon jazz musicians. This fusion changed the music at that time."
Before drawing the locations in Cuba, Mariscal completed an intense research trip. Although many of Havana’s pre-revolutionary buildings had decayed, either deliberately or from neglect, the filmmakers discovered that the Havana city government had assembled an archive of photographs to help with street repairs. Pictures of every street corner in Havana since 1949 were archived, conveying the look and mood of the era.
The team also found pictures taken inside the planes ferrying Americans to the party island. Mariscal explained that the planes arriving from New York, Washington, D.C. and Miami during that period were filled with Cuban musicians entertaining the passengers. They provided much historical information about the Cubans of that era: the clothes, the faces, the streets, billboards, cars, bars, the way they lived, and the sensational life of Havana.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures distributed the film in 100 Spanish theaters on 25 February 2010. GKIDS holds the distribution rights for the film in North America. The film has also been shown at the following festivals and released in the UK and Spain. The English dub will include the voices of Wendell Pierce, Mary J. Blige, Rob Riggle, Chris Pine, and Viola Davis.
- Telluride Film Festival on 4 September 2010
- Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010
- London Spanish Film festival on 6 October 2010
- London Latin American Film Festival in November 2010
- Holland Animation Film Festival in November 2010
- Cape Town Design/FilmFest at Design Indaba February 2011
- Miami International Film Festival March 2011
- TYPO Berlin 2011 Design Conference on 19 May
- Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival (opening gala show) September 2011
Chico & Rita was broadly praised by critics upon release, gaining a score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The BBC's Mark Kermode listed the film fifth in his top five films of 2010. Philip French called the film "the year's best musical and one of the year's finest animated films" and an "utterly delightful, ... affecting, funny, historically accurate and at times pleasingly erotic story", while Sounds and Colors called the film "a crowning achievement; a mixture of great animation, music and history with a narrative that reads like the simple story of heartbreak that bestows the greatest of love songs."
In March 2011, The Miami Herald said "the film melds dazzling visuals and a wildly infectious score into a simple yet affecting love story" and while the "first 30 minutes of Chico & Rita achieve a giddy high the rest of the movie can never match", "Chico & Rita makes you fall hard for music, as hard as the protagonists fall for each other, and the movie is decent enough to give its lovebirds the tender finale they deserve." Fotogramas, the oldest and most prestigious film magazine in Spain, gave the film 4 out of 5 stars and praised how its characters were "more human and alive than many real actors", unlike Variety which negatively reviewed the film, calling it "a test, one that gauges whether your love of Cuban jazz can exceed your threshold for lousy animation...[in] an unflattering style, like a children's coloring book with its rudimentary line drawings and stiff, expressionless characters"; the film was "evocative enough of late-'40s Havana and the sweaty, sensual music of the time."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|Academy Awards||26 February 2012||Best Animated Feature||Fernando Trueba
|Annie Awards ||4 February 2012||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|European Film Awards ||3 December 2011||Best Animated Feature Film||Tono Errando
|Festival of European Animated Feature Films and TV Specials ||19 June 2011||Hungarian National Student Jury Award||Fernando Trueba
|Goya Awards ||13 February 2011||Best Animated Film||Fernando Trueba
According to Tono Errando, "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. Dizzy Gillespie has said many times in interviews, there was a moment for him that was very important, it was the moment he first played with Chano Pozo. Pozo was the first percussionist that played in a jazz band."
Cuban pianist, bandleader, composer and arranger of the film Bebo Valdés was living in obscurity in Stockholm, when Trueba reintroduced his playing to an international audience with his film Calle 54, and went on to produce the Grammy-winning Lagrimas Negras album, teaming Valdes with flamenco singer Diego El Cigala.
Trueba was also able to persuade the real-life flamenco star Estrella Morente, who has been performing since the age of seven, to participate in the film.
- De Pablos, Emiliano (1 December 2010). "Disney takes 'Chico and Rita' for Spain". Variety. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- Chico & Rita at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Dossier Calle 54 Club. Issuu.com (17 February 2010). Retrieved on 2011-03-11.
- Anderson, Paul (21 February 2012). ""Chico & Rita" wins Spain’s Goya for animated film". Big Cartoon News. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- Variety http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118049175?refcatid=13&printerfriendly=true
|url=missing title (help).
- Debruge, Peter (10 September 2010). "Chico and Rita". Variety. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- "2010 Films – Chico & Rita". Toronto International Film Festival. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
- http://www.londonspanishfilmfestival.com/2010_festival/2010_films/chico_y_rita.html[dead link]
- The London Latin American Film Festival, the Best Annual Latin American Film Festival in London celebrates its 20th edition in November 2010. Latinamericanfilmfestival.com. Retrieved on 2011-03-11.
- Winners from the Holland Animation Film Festival website,
- The Holland Animation Film Festival 2010: Chico and Rita steal the show, a 10 November 2010 article from Phaidon Press
- Filmfest 2011. Design Indaba. Retrieved on 2011-03-11.
- "Falling in love in Havana — and all that jazz". The Miami Herald. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- "Estudio Mariscal and Chico & Rita, an animated movie". TYPO Berlin 2011 SHIFT. 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
- http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/chico_and_rita/ Chico & Rita - Rotten Tomatoes. Accessed 2011-4-10
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad4TwCamU90 Kermode Uncut: My Top Five Films of the Year. Accessed 2011-4-10
- Philip French (21 November 2010). "Chico & Rita – Review". The Observer (London). Retrieved 2011-05-06.
- Chico and Rita, a 19 November 2010 review from SoundsandColours.com
- "Oscars 2012: Nominees in full". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-01-24.
- Vary, Adam B. (5 December 2011). "'Kung Fu Panda 2,' 'Puss in Boots,' 'Rango' lead Annie award nominations". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- 10. Kecskeméti Animációs Filmfesztivál 7. Európai Animációs Játékfilm Fesztivál. Kecskeméti Animáció Film Fesztivál. 2011.
- Fernando Trueba P.C.S.A, Estudio Mariscal S.A, Magic Light Pictures, IOM Limited (3 October 2010). "Chico & Rita – Pressbook". www.chicoyrita.com. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- Official website (UK)
- Official website (USA)
- Official website (Spain)
- Chico and Rita at the Internet Movie Database
- Chico and Rita at Rotten Tomatoes
- Chico & Rita at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Interview at YouTube between Mark Kermode and director Fernando Trueba at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival
- Video review of the film by Mark Kermode, from the BBC
- Magic Light Pictures