Daniel Rosenfeld’s “Piazzolla, the Years of the Shark,” a biographical documentary about tango musician Astor Piazzolla, world premieres at the Intl. Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Rosenfeld talked with Variety about Piazzolla’s legacy, the revelations within the film and his interesting exhibition strategy.
Piazzolla is, along with Carlos Gardel, the most notable tango musician of the 20th century. The film features a previously unreleased collection of interviews with the artist himself, recorded before his death in 1992. The film uses those tapes, video of classic performances and the extensive memorabilia collection of Piazzolla’s son, Daniel, to tell the story of the international superstar.
The film is an Argentine-French co-production between Rosenfeld – an equally accomplished producer and director – and France’s Françoise Gazio from Idéale Audience. Euroarts is handling sales.
Rosenfeld found early success as a documentary filmmaker with his 2000 debut “Saluzzi – Essay for Bandoneon and Three Brothers.” The bandoneon, similar to an accordion, plays a major role in “Piazzolla” as well.
How is Piazzolla viewed in Argentina today? He seemed much happier, much more comfortable in other countries where his work was more appreciated, but I wonder if there is a greater appreciation of his work today than during his lifetime.
Nowadays, everyone in Argentina admires Piazzolla’s music. But in the ‘50s and ‘60s a lot of people hated his music. They couldn’t dance with his rhythms; he was changing the Tango. Today international musicians like Chick Corea, Martha Argerich, Yo-Yo Ma, Mick Jagger and Caetano Veloso all play and love his music.
What did you learn about Astor and about his family while you were making this film?
Before doing the film I believed that some of his strongest or most melancholic melodies came from the nostalgia of cities in Argentina he adored like Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires. But now I believe his big love was New York. He grew up there in the ‘30s, he lived 14 years there. He always wanted to come back to New York. Childhood has a lot of clues in the creative process.
What was the goal in making this film? Was it just to tell the history of this transcendent talent? Or is there something else you want audiences to take from the film?
The goal was to make a “Piazzolla by Piazzolla” film. We don’t have talking heads. Ninety per cent is previously unseen footage and amazing music, or personal archives revealed by his son for the first time. But it is not a film only about his music, It is also about a father and his child, family loves and the mysteries of creation.
You have an interesting strategy for exhibition. Can you discuss that, and where else you will be going with the film?
The international premiere is at IDFA, at the Carré Theater, with a Bandoneon concert before the film screens. In December the film will have its Asian premiere in Japan. In Argentina it just recently premiered in theaters, fully booked since the first screening, then Netherlands, France and Portugal so far. In Argentina I have organized special screenings with a bandoneon player live before each. It’s been crazy, but people love it.