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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday December 13, 2019 


Narrated by the filmmaker, Fernando Trueba, Calle 54 is a documentary musical celebrating some of the world’s greatest Latin Jazz musicians (from Argentina, Cuba, USA) who are all introduced and their session recorded under excellent conditions at the Sony Music Studios in New York.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Taking a very different approach to Wim Wenders’ much celebrated Buena Vista Social Club – which was more of an ode to the musos involved – Fernando Trueba surrounds the musos gathered here with a glow of pure musical appreciation.

Just five minutes into this film I was hooked, my ears mesmerised by the seductive energy, sensuality and brilliant musicality of the artists. Who’d have thought that recording a series of studio sessions would make such riveting filmmaking. It was always going to be a sizzler of an album (CD is glued inside my player) but pictures? Well, yes, because Trueba so adores his subjects he has filmed them with an intimacy and sensitivity to the music that makes each session flow like honey on camera.

Trueba enhances the film with close ups that constitute a privilege for the viewer, sitting on Chano Dominguez’s shoulder for some piano runs in the Flamenco-inspired Oye como viene (specially composed for this), or hanging off the mic while Eliane Elias sings Samba triste …. And so much more. Trueba’s narrative links not only set up each artist (briefly) he also manages to create context for the sessions, often using footage (New York, a snowbound street, the lake where Michel Camilo lives, etc) to give the film a physical reality. It’s simple and effective, sometimes moving in a surprising way. Trueba sees the film not a documentary but fiction: “another type of fiction. It’s one of my most personal films (he’s made 10 so far).” If you have any interest at all in jazz, this film is not to be missed.

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CALLE 54 (G)

CAST: DOCUMENTARY: featuring performances by: Gato Barbieri, Israel Lopez, Michel Camilo, Paquito D’Rivera, Chano Dominguez, Eliane Elias, Jerry Gonzales & Fort Apache Band, Chico O’Farrill, Tito Puente, Orlando Rios, Bebo Valdes, Carlos Valdes, Chucho Valdes

PRODUCER: Christina Huete

DIRECTOR: Fernando Trueba

SCRIPT: Fernando Trueba (narration)


EDITOR: Carmen Frias

MUSIC: Julio Marti


RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Melbourne (Lumiere), March 7, 2002; Perth (Luna), March 21; Sydney (Valhalla), April 11; Adelaide & Brisbane to follow


VIDEO RELEASE: February 12, 2003

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