Buena Vista Social Club

With a small film crew, Wim Wenders accompanied his old friend Ry Cooder, who had previously written the music for PARIS, TEXAS and 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 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 and 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) and then, still later, in July 1998, to their triumphal concert in 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 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. Along with an Academy Award nomination for the best documentary film, BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB won this category of the European Film Awards, the German Film Prize in Gold, Germany’s Golden Camera and the Grand Prize for Film in Brazil as well as numerous other awards.


Germany/USA 1998/99
Length: 105 min, 2864 m
Format: Digital Betacam, transferred to 35mm, color; 1:1,85; Dolby Stereo Digital
Original Language: English, Spanish

2K DCP 2014 (HD-Scan)

Festivals & Awards

1999 • European Film Awards (European Documentary Award – Prix Arte)
1999 • New York Film Critics Award (Best Documentary)
1999 • Los Angeles Film Critics Award (Best Documentary)
2000 • Academy Awards (Nominee: Best Feature Documentary)
2000 • German Film Awards (Best Documentary)

Cast and crew

Production: Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH (Berlin) Director: Wim Wenders Producer: Ulrich Felsberg, Deepak Nayar Screenplay: Wim Wenders Director of Photography: Jörg Widmer (DoP and Steadicam), Robby Müller (additional camera Amsterdam), Lisa Rinzler (additional camera New York), Wim Wenders (additional camera Havana and New York) Editor: Brian Johnson Sound: Martin Müller Music: Ry Cooder, Joachim Cooder, Ibrahim Ferrer, Juan de Marcos González, Rubén González, Eliades Ochoa, Omara Portuondo, Compay Segundo and others

Steadicam: Jörg Widmer Still Photographer: Donata Wenders, Susan Titelman Location Manager: Linda Moran In Cooperation with: Kintop Pictures (Los Angeles), Arte G.E.I.E. (Strasbourg), ICAIC (Havana) Primary Distribution: Senator Film Verleih GmbH (Berlin) First Release (DE): 17.06.1999 World Sales: HanWay Films

Blu-ray & DVD


Language/Sound: English (5.1 DTS-HD MA, PCM Stereo)
Subtitles: German
Image Format: 1,78:1 1080/50i Full HD


DVD – Premium edition (DE)
Universum Film
Language/Sound: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 ), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 & PCM Stereo)
Subtitles: German
Image Format: 1,77:1


Language/Sound: English, Spanish (5.1 DD, Stereo PCM)
Subtitles: German
Image Format: 1,78:1


DVD&BR – Special Edition (USA)
Language/Sound: English, Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English
Image Format: 1,78:1


BAC Films
Language/Sound: French, Spanish
Subtitles: French
Image Format: 1,85:1


Ripley’s Home Video
Language/Sound: Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Image Format: 1,78:1


Axiom Films
Language/Sound: English, Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 & 5.1)
Subtitels: English
Image Format: 1,78:1



Book to the film

Buena Vista Social Club
Wim and Donata Wenders
te Neues, New York 2000
132 pages, 137 color and duotone plates
ISBN: 9780500282205

available at bookshops

Press Sheet (PDF)

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