26th TiDF: Opening ceremony with Fernando Trueba

The 26th Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival is delighted to welcome multi-awarded Fernando Trueba, one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of contemporary European cinema and recipient of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for the film Belle Époque. Fernando Trueba’s new film, the breathtaking animated music documentary They Shot the Piano Player (2023) will signal the Festival’s kick-off on Thursday March 7th at Olympion. The renowned Spanish filmmaker will attend the opening ceremony in order to present the film to the audience and will be bestowed with the Festival’s honorary Golden Alexander for his overall contribution to cinema and culture. 

The 26th TiDF is also hosting a spotlight on the acclaimed film director, who has an equally astounding career as a music producer under his belt, having won two Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammy Awards, screening three films that revolve around his profound love and knowledge of music.  Fernando Trueba recently concluded the shooting of the film Haunted Heart in Greece, in the wider region of Volos, starring Matt Dillon, in collaboration with Blonde SA. 

Fernando Trueba made his first steps in cinema as a film critic, initially at the El País newspaper in the late 70s, and later on as the founder of the monthly magazine Casablanca, in 1980. The same year marked his debut as a film director with the film Ópera Prima, one of the greatest and most representative moments of the comedia madrileña, which set the triumphant tone for what was to come next. In 1989, Trueba delivered his first international success, Twisted Obsession, snatching the Goya Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Belle Époque (1993) took on the baton, winning the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, followed by The Girl of Your Dreams (1998), which added another seven Goya Awards in Trueba’s rich collection of distinctions and went down in history as one of the biggest box-office hits of the 90s Spanish cinema. 

The films of the Spotlight on Fernando Trueba: 

They Shot the Piano Player (2023), the Festival’s opening film and latest teaming up of Trueba with the Spanish visual artist Javier Mariscal, turns the spotlight on bossa nova music through a neo-noir animated docudrama. Jeff Goldblum (with whom Trueba had worked together 35 years earlier in the film Twisted Obsession) lends his voice to the main character, a music journalist who seeks to find who the Brazilian pianist Franscisco Tenório Júnior really was, as he investigates his mysterious disappearance during a tour in Buenos Aires. The film’s plot takes place in the 1960s and the 1970s, shortly before Latin America was immersed into a maelstrom of totalitarian regimes. Compiling information from people close to him (a series of interviews conducted by Trueba himself within a 15-year period), among whom music icons such as João Gilberto and Caetano Veloso, the movie intertwines the personal and the political element, outlining a troubled era of the Latin American history. A movie filled with music that unravels in the form of a political thriller. 

In Calle 54, Fernando Trueba avows his fascination for Latin jazz, in a documentary that includes a series of live performances by the most iconic Latin jazz names, among which Paquito D’Rivera, Eliane Elias, Chano Domínguez, Jerry González, Michel Camilo, “Gato” Barbieri, Tito Puente, “Chucho” Valdés, “Cachao” López, Puntilla Rios, “Patato” Valdés, and Bebo Valdés, in the legendary studios of Sony Music, at New York’s 54th Street; two years later, Trueba went on to found his own record label named Calle 54 Records. 

In 2010, Fernando Trueba joined forces once again with the Spanish visual artist Javier Mariscal, who had designed both the poster of Calle 54 and all the covers of the albums released by Calle 54 Records. The mesmerizing animation Chico & Rita, the first Spanish film to be nominated in the Best Animated Feature category, is a heart-wrenching story of love, loss and hope. The movie is inspired by one of the greatest musicians in the history of Cuba, Bebo Valdés, unraveling the stories of prolific musicians, many of whom appear in the film, such as Guillermo Barreto, Nat King Cole, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Miguelito Valdés, Chano Pozo et al.