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Buena Vista Social Club (1999)

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Aging Cuban musicians whose talents had been virtually forgotten following Castro's takeover of Cuba, are brought out of retirement by Ry Cooder, who travelled to Havana in order to bring the musicians together, resulting in triumphant performances of extraordinary music, and resurrecting the musicians' careers.



(by), (original concept)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Eliades Ochoa ...
Joachim Cooder ...
Omara Portuondo ...
Rubén González ...
Orlando 'Cachaíto' López ...
Amadito Valdés ...
Manuel 'Guajiro' Mirabal ...
Barbarito Torres ...
Pío Leyva ...
Manuel 'Puntillita' Licea ...
Juan de Marcos González ...


A group of legendary Cuban musicians, some as old as their nineties, were brought together by Ry Cooder to record a CD. In this film, we see and hear some of the songs being recorded in Havana. There is also footage from concerts in Amsterdam and New York City's Carnegie Hall. In addition, many of the individual musicians talk about their lives in Cuba and about how they got started in music. Written by George S. Davis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

cuba | song | concert | singer | guitar | See All (13) »


Cubas Poesie Cubas Musik, Cubas Menschen, Cubas Poesie [The music of Cuba, the people of Cuba, the poetry of Cuba] See more »


Documentary | Music


G | See all certifications »


Official Sites:


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Release Date:

4 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Havana Rhapsody  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$127,370 (USA) (4 June 1999)


$6,997,620 (USA) (28 January 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Buena Vista Social Club album was put together by guitarist Ry Cooder in 1997 as a means of recapturing the "lost" music of pre-revolutionary Havana. The story was later made into this movie. See more »


Referenced in See This Movie (2004) See more »


Chan Chan
Written by Francisco Repilado
See more »

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User Reviews

great music, wonderful images
26 December 1999 | by (Bogota, Colombia) – See all my reviews

Besides the sones, guarachas and boleros (basic styles of good-old Cuban music), the beauty of this documentary relies on Wim Wenders' magnificent camera use.

It is impossible not to feel the emotion of the crowded Carnegie Hall in the climax scenes, but there are also many other images that carry the viewer to more intimate experiences of La Habana, its music and musicians. Wenders' camera takes us to the Conservatory, where pianist Ruben Gonzalez rehearses surrounded by children; or to the Egrem Recording Studio, where singers Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo look at each other's eyes while rendering one of the most beautiful boleros I've heard in my life.

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