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Piazzolla – The Years of the Shark

An intimate portrait of tango revolutionary Astor Piazzola in super 8 family films, recordings of conversations with his daughter Diana from the 80s, and current stories from his son Daniel.


For fans of the late composer, arranger, and musician Astor Piazzolla, YEARS OF THE SHARK is a window into Piazzolla’s personal and professional path. Director Daniel Rosenfeld reportedly wanted to make a film that was “Piazzolla by Piazzolla.” Rosenfeld successfully portrays Piazzolla in an unfiltered way with 8mm footage, audio recordings, photographs, and videos of sweat-drenched Piazzolla playing away on the bandoneon, seemingly oblivious to his audience.

This biographical documentary provides a pure depiction of a world renowned artist whose music is beloved even to me, but whose character I’d never considered. Piazzolla spent a portion of his life in Uruguay fishing and shark hunting. He called this time in his life that allowed for reflection his “shark period.” However, the span of YEARS OF THE SHARK is much broader. We learn of Piazzolla’s childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and the turning points throughout.
The documentary is anchored to the present day and Piazzolla’s son Daniel, also a musician, with whom he had an apparently fractured relationship. We get alternating views of Piazzolla’s fiery trajectory and shots of Daniel, with his fixed expression of quiet intensity, drinking coffee, taking long drags from a cigarette, clearly brooding over something that evades the observer. Altogether, the documentary suggests that Piazzolla’s legacy has multiple layers.

As expected, YEARS OF THE SHARK brims over with Piazzolla’s music, which takes on new textures as the backdrop to his life.

It was equally enjoyable to learn of the twists of fate that partially dictated the course of Piazzolla’s journey. I say partially because this documentary shows that Piazzolla was exceptionally headstrong, not only when it came to pursuing his vision of Tango music. The focus of YEARS OF THE SHARK is very much who Piazzolla was. Still, I found this contrast between Piazzolla’s determination and vulnerability to chance intriguing.

Janielle Williams


Original title: Piazzolla, los años del tiburón
Argentinien/Frankreich 2018, 90 min
Language: English, French, Spanish
Genre: Documentary, Music Films
Director: Daniel Rosenfeld
Author: Daniel Rosenfeld, Fernando Regueira, Alejandro Carrillo Penovi
DOP: Ramiro Civita
Montage: Alejandro Carrillo Penovi
Distributor: Filmdisposition Wessel
Release: 07.11.2019


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