Wenders, Wim - Buena Vista Social Club
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
The origins of Buena Vista Social Club (1998) begin with Ry Cooder and the elderly Cuban musicians that he had been acting as producer for in Havana, prior to joining the End of Violence team in LA. During work on the soundtrack, Cooder was listless and distracted. When Wenders’ asked him what was wrong, he said that he was “still in Cuba” and played Wenders a tape of the Buena Vista Social Club recordings. Wenders was excited about the recordings, but intrigued to find out the age of the musicians, who had he assumed to be young up and comers.
Focusing on the recording of Ibrahim Ferrer’s solo album, the life stories of the players, who also played on the album Buena Vista Social Club, the film also features footage from concerts in Amsterdam and documents the musicians’ first ever trip to America, to perform at Carnegie Hall. Loose in terms of structure and still a road movie of sorts, Buena Vista Social Club was one of the first major films (feature or documentary) to be shot entirely on digital video. Rather than an aesthetic choice, it was a one of practicality, allowing greater flexibility for the camera operators, as well as considerable savings in film stock and lab costs. This time, gun steadicam operator Jörg Widmer shared DP credits with Robby Müller and Lisa Rrinzler. Widmer was responsible for the fluid camera movement, in scenes such as Ibrahim Ferrer’s duet with Omara Portuondo on Silencio. Wenders himself also shot a great deal of second unit footage. Ultimately, 80 hours of raw material was edited down to a 101 minute film.