Bebo Valdés’s Incredible Comeback

Sonidos Latinos: Bebo Valdés’s Incredible Comeback

Ed Morales
May 11, 2008

Sometimes, the end of a documentary reveals itself to the director long before he is finished. That’s how it was for Carlos Carcas, who had been filming 89-year-old Cuban pianist Bebo Valdés as he played a moving rendition of “Old Man River.”

“He had just played a contradanza, and I was thinking, ‘How can he just switch from one genre to another like that’?” recalled Carcas. “I was like, wow, this is the end of the film – I don’t know what happens in the middle, but this is the end. Then [producer] Fernando Trueba walks in and says, ‘Hah! Old Man Bebo!’ and I had the title as well.”

Carcas’ lyrically informative documentary “Old Man Bebo” had just been screened at the TriBeCa Film Festival and received thundering applause. He had been Trueba’s cameraman on two films: “Calle 54” and “El Milagro de Candeal” and then decided to tackle the task of telling Valdés’ life story.

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