Music has always been a central character in the films of Wim Wenders. Ranging from the classic rock of the Kinks in his debut feature, Summer in the City, to the melancholy twang of Ry Cooder’s guitar in Paris, Texas, the wide array of sounds that make up the director’s soundtracks reflect his keen ear for songs that enhance the emotional tenor of his images. It was this love for music that led Wenders to Cuba in the late nineties to visit the Buena Vista Social Club, a group of veteran instrumentalists and vocalists that Cooder brought to his attention. Wenders’ encounter with this vestige of prerevolutionary Cuban culture resulted in 1999’s Buena Vista Social Club, a compendium of live performances, interviews, and rehearsal footage that became one of the most successful documentaries of its decade and brought the previously neglected musicians worldwide acclaim. In the clip below, taken from a supplemental feature on our edition of the film, Wenders discusses his close relationship with one of the group’s breakout stars, singer Ibrahim Ferrer.
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