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ALEXANDRIA, VA, March 22, 2000 -- "Buena Vista Social Club," Wim Wenders' acclaimed Academy Award-nominated documentary, which blends the sultry allure of traditional Cuban music with impressionistic glimpses of contemporary Havana, debuts on PBS, Wednesday, July 19, 2000, it was announced by PBS and presenting station KCET/Hollywood. (Check local listings.) The feature film is an offering of PBS SHOWCASE, the major new initiative highlighting culture and arts programming as part of a thematic evening. The airing of "Buena Vista Social Club" marks the second PBS SHOWCASE evening in a planned schedule of three or four per year.

An outgrowth of guitarist Ry Cooder's Grammy-winning CD spotlighting Cuba's most legendary performers, "Buena Vista Social Club" was originally scheduled to air on PBS last November. PBS postponed the broadcast so the film could be eligible for Academy Award nomination, and indeed, the film was subsequently nominated in the Documentary Feature category. In addition, it has garnered top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Critics Association, the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the European Film Academy.

"Buena Vista Social Club" is an engaging portrait of talented Cuban musicians, many in their eighties and nineties. The group was assembled by Cooder during a 1995 trip to Havana. His quest was to record an album featuring the country's traditional music, including Cuban boleros and Sones, dating as far back as the 1920s. He named the album "Buena Vista Social Club" after a popular gathering-place for musicians in pre-Castro Cuba. Currently, the album has sold more than one million copies worldwide and won the 1998 Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album. Cooder then convinced longtime friend Wenders to travel with him to Cuba to film the musicians in their homeland.

The documentary reveals the joy and spontaneous creativity of these amazing musicians, including footage from recording sessions, the group's concert in Amsterdam and their historic 1998 Carnegie Hall performance. Wenders' camera also follows the artists into the hot, dusty streets of their youth, where their reflections lead to touching and humorous stories.

In addition to standard letterbox format, "Buena Vista Social Club" will be available in digital wide-screen format for PBS stations broadcasting on digital channels.

"Buena Vista Social Club" is produced by Road Movies Filmproduktions in association with Kintop Pictures, ARTE and ICAC. Executive producer: Nick Gold. Producers: Ry Cooder, Ulrich Felsberg and Depak Nayar. Director: Wim Wenders.

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