Part of Music City Mondays.
With a small film crew, Wim Wenders accompanied his old friend Ry Cooder — who had written the music for PARIS, TEXAS and THE END OF VIOLENCE — on a trip to Havana. Cooder wanted to record his material for Ibrahim Ferrer’s solo album at a studio there — following the recording of the first Buena Vista Social Club CD (which had not yet been released at that time). Wenders immersed himself in the world of Cuban music. Over the course of several months, he observed and accompanied the musicians—first at home in Havana; then weeks later, in April 1998, on their trip to Amsterdam for the first public performance of the band (who had never played together outside a studio); then still later, in July 1998, to their triumphal concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
He thus followed the old heroes of the traditional Cuban son music on their path from being completely forgotten to becoming world famous — within the period of just a few months. “I thought, I’ll shoot a documentary,” Wenders has said, “and here we were, about to witness a fairy tale that no one could have imagined in this form.” The music documentary became a cinematic sensation and an international success.
“A poetry of love, longing and affirmation bleeds through the music of Cuba, and some of the best sounds the island ever created are captured with embracing humanity…. No music lover should pass up the chance to see BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB because it is all about music and how it happens.” —Peter Stack, San Francisco Chronicle (June 1999) “...The concert scenes find the stage awash in such intense joy, camaraderie and nationalist pride that you become convinced that making music is a key to longevity and spiritual well-being.” —Stephen Holden, New York Times (June 1999) “The movie places the musicians in their social and cultural context, but it refuses to score easy political points about the dark side of the Castro regime or the vindictive character of U.S. policy towards Cuba. The people in the movie impress us with their resilience and their self-respect. It is a tonic experience to be with them and hear their music.” —Phillip French, The Guardian (September 1999)