Traveling from the streets of Havana to the stage of Carnegie Hall, this revelatory documentary captures a forgotten generation of Cuba’s brightest musical talents as they enjoy an unexpected brush with world fame. The veteran vocalists and instrumentalists collaborated with American guitarist and roots-music champion Ry Cooder 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 an album that won a Grammy and made them an international phenomenon. In the wake of this success, director Wim Wenders filmed the ensemble’s members—including golden-voiced Ibrahim Ferrer and piano virtuoso Rubén González—in a series of illuminating interviews and live performances. The result is one of the most beloved music documentaries of the 1990s, and an infectious ode to a neglected corner of Cuba’s prerevolutionary heritage.
Audio commentary from 1999 featuring director Wim Wenders
New interview with Wim Wenders
We Believe in Dreams, a new piece featuring never-before-seen outtakes from the rehearsals for the Buena Vista Social Club’s Amsterdam concerts
Interview from 1998 with musician Compay Segundo on his career and the Cuban music scene
Radio interviews from 2000 featuring musicians Ibrahim Ferrer, Rubén González, Eliades Ochoa, Omara Portuondo, and others
An essay by author and geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro