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German director Wim Wenders and US musician Ry Cooder first worked together on Paris, Texas, the former's Palme d'Or-winning 1984 film for which Cooder's slide-gui¬tar over the opening shots of the desert landscape, once heard, is never likely to be forgotten: indeed, in the intervening years, it has become the accepted sound¬track of the desert.
The two men have remained friends ever since. And, much as Wenders' own frame of reference has expanded far beyond the US-colonised culture of the postwar Germany in which he grew up, so too Cooder's interests have far outgrown the folk and blues influences of his early albums.
It was this musical eclecticism that gave birth to Cooder's obses¬sion with the 'son' music of Cuba, most of whose practitioners, if not already dead, are well into their seventh, eighth or even ninth decades. Cooder discovered son more or less by accident, on a trip to Havana. But it wasn't until four years ago, in March 1996, that he managed to assemble a group of musicians to produce the album from which the film takes its name, and which in turn comes from a long-vanished Havana club that was the home of son.
Wenders' record of their music was shot in Havana, and at con¬certs in New York and Amsterdam in the summer of 1998. His film is nothing more - and, by the same emphatic token, nothing less -than a record of and a tribute to music that the world deserved to (re)discover. On the basis of the film's enthusiastic reception, it has been delighted to do so.
"Music is a treasure hunt," Cooder has said. "You dig and dig, and sometimes you find something. In Cuba, the music flows like a river."
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Wim Wenders
Produced by: Ulrich Felsberg, Deepak Nayar
Cinematography: Jörg Widmer
Editing: Brian Johnson
Nominations and Awards
European Documentary 1999
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