Chico and Rita

If you caught the Javier Mariscal retrospective at London’s Design Museum last year, the fact that this designer – best known for his iconic graphics and Cobi, the 1992 Barcelona Olympics mascot – also directs films will come as no surprise.

Rita dances in a Havana courtyard
Rita dances in a Havana courtyard

Mariscal’s latest offering is Chico and Rita, an animated and often painful love story between a gifted pianist and a beautiful singer. The pair chase each other from 1940s Havana to New York and Las Vegas, falling in and out of love as their careers grow at speed.

New York by Javier Mariscal
New York scene from Chico and Rita

Chico in New York
Chico in New York

Mariscal teamed up with younger brother Tono Errando and director Fernando Trueba  to create the film, which also featured an original soundtrack from legendary Cuban pianist and composer Bebo Valdés and vocals from Estrella Morente – best known outside flamenco circles as the singing voice of Penelope Cruz in Pedro Almodóvar’s film Volver.

Fernando Trueba, Tono Errando and Javier Mariscal

Source: Photographer: David Airob

Fernando Trueba, Tono Errando and Javier Mariscal

If you can forgive a sometimes hackneyed plot, the film offers transportation into the vibrant, violent and sensual world of 1940s Havana and its absorbing music scene. With charming cameos from jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Nat King Cole, the soundtrack alone is worth the ticket price, especially when the music and animation is used in tandem for chase and fight scenes.

Nat King Cole at New York's Radio City Music Hall
Nat King Cole at New York’s Radio City Music Hall

Chico and Rita will be screened as part of the Barbican’s Cine Cuba event on 25 September and will be on general release later in the year.

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