The Rolling Stones made history yet again this year when they packed Havana, Cuba’s Ciudad Deportiva for a massive free concert that – together with President Obama’s visit a week earlier – seemed to announce Cuba’s return to the international spotlight. But luckily for those who didn’t make the show, the Stones were smart enough to bring a camera crew along with them to immortalize the watershed performance for future generations.
Of course, this isn’t the first time a Stones tour has inspired a rockumentary, and the first time around it happened to bring us one of the greatest concert documentaries in film history; the Maysles brothers’ masterful 1970 feature, Gimme Shelter. This time around, Mick Jagger and the gang gave the privilege to career rockumentarian Paul Dugdale, who previously made a name for himself with modern classics of the genre like Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall and Coldplay: Ghost Stories.
The film, entitled Olé, Olé, Olé: A Trip Across Latin America doesn’t focus explicitly on the Havana concert, but rather on the 10-stop Latin American tour that led up to the event, together all the expectation and uncertainty that surrounded it. Along the way, the documentary takes us through the streets, arenas, and hotels of Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and more to explore the deep cultural impact that the Stones have made across Latin America.
Beautifully shot observational footage acts as a sort of travelogue of the band’s swing through these diverse countries, taking in their physical and cultural landscapes as interviewees reflect on the region’s complex relationship with rock music – including outright repression from autocratic regimes that included Castro’s Cuba. Meanwhile, mages of ecstatic rockeros caught up in the rapture of a Stones concert, or shouting in unison together with tens of thousands of fellow fanatics drive home the special relationship Latin Americans have with the band.