Traveling from the streets of Havana to the stage of Carnegie Hall, Wim Wenders’ revelatory documentary brilliantly captures a forgotten generation of Cuba’s brightest musical talents as they enjoy an unexpected brush with world fame.
“A film of ineffable sweetness and glorious music … an achievement of both music scholarship and passionate humanity.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
The veteran vocalists and instrumentalists collaborated with American guitarist and roots-music champion Ry Cooder (who also provided the music for Wenders’ films Paris, Texas and The End of Violence) to form the Buena Vista Social Club, playing a jazz-inflected mix of cha-cha, mambo, bolero, and other traditional Latin American styles, and recording a million-selling album that won a Grammy and made them an international phenomenon. In the midst of this success, Wenders and a small crew filmed the ensemble’s members – including golden-voiced Ibrahim Ferrer and piano virtuoso Ruben Gonzalez – in a series of illuminating interviews and live performances, following these talented musicians on their path from being completely forgotten to becoming world famous, within the period of just a few months. The result is one of the most beloved, award-winning music documentaries of all-time, and a joyfully infectious ode to a neglected corner of Cuba’s pre-revolutionary heritage. (Dir. by Wim Wenders, 1999, Germany/ USA/ UK/ France/ Cuba, in English and Spanish with English subtitles, 105 mins., Rated G)