by director Fernando Trueba
Chico & Rita is a love story. Or should I say several love stories....
First off, it's the love story of Chico, a young pianist, and Rita, a young singer. They are both Cubans. They meet one night in Havana in 1948. And then....
It's also the love story of two towns: Havana and New York. They used to look at each other and, even more important, to listen to each other. And that takes us to a third love story....
The love story of Cuban music and American jazz. A story that reached its climax at the end of the '40s when Cuban and American musicians created a new genre: Afro-Cuban Jazz, Cubop, Latin Jazz, whatever you'd like to call it.
And finally, Chico & Rita is the love story of movies and music, the two great passions of my life.
Chico & Rita was born out of friendship. Out of two friendships, actually. First, out of my friendship with artist Javier Mariscal. Out of my desire to work with him, to do something together.
When I was editing Calle 54, I thought about who I would like to design the poster, the album, and the artwork for the film. For me, it could be none other than Mariscal. And so I called him and showed him a first cut of the film. He was excited. A friendship was born to the rhythm of Latin Jazz and Cuban music. His covers for the Calle 54 Records albums followed.
But the dream—to make a film together—was missing. For the Mariscal colors and lines to become animated, to come alive. One day I saw a video clip produced at his studio. In some backgrounds you could see Mariscal's drawings of La Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Lightning struck. We would make a film "in Cuba." It would be like a bolero, a Latin love song.
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. It could be no other way. Mariscal was inspired by Bebo when he drew Chico young and old. Most importantly, had I not met Bebo, Chico & Rita would not exist. He was our inspiration. The movie is an homage to Bebo but also to Cuba and its music.
I see this movie as a sensorial experience. I hope the colors of Javier Mariscal and the music of Bebo Valdés will take you to a lost era of classic movies and great music.