‘Buena Vista Social Club’ Doc Earns Spot in National Film Registry

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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Each year, the National Film Registry selects 25 films to add to its list of acclaimed cinematic works to showcase “the range and diversity of American film heritage [and] to increase awareness for its preservation.”

For the 2020 class, the National Film Registry included the 1999 documentary Buena Vista Social Club. Directed by Wim Wenders (The Salt of the Earth), the film tells the story of a group of legendary Cuban musicians who gathered to record the celebrated album Buena Vista Social Club. Musicians included the late Cuban singer Ibrahim Ferrer, who had retired in 1991, but returned to record the album in 1996, Cuban singer Omara Portuondo and guitarist Eliades Ochoa, among others.

The album, which includes songs like “Chan Chan,” “De camino a la vereda” and “El cuarto de Tula,” went double platinum in 2009. According to Billboard, it is the second best-selling Latin album in the United States after Selena’s posthumous album Dreaming of You.

“The National Film Registry is an important record of American history, culture and creativity, captured through one of the great American artforms, our cinematic experience,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told Variety. “With the inclusion of diverse filmmakers, we are not trying to set records but rather to set the record straight by spotlighting the astonishing contributions women and people of color have made to American cinema, despite facing often-overwhelming hurdles.”

Along with Buena Vista Social Club, some of the other films added to the registry this year include The Dark Knight, Grease, A Clockwork Orange, The Joy Luck Club and The Hurt Locker.

Other Latino films that had already earned a spot in the registry include El Norte, La Bamba, Stand and Deliver, Real Women Have Curves and Drácula, the Spanish-version of the 1931 horror classic that was shot the same year and on the same set as the Bela Lugosi version.