Carlos Santana, the subject of new film, has higher aspirations: 'I'm shooting for a Nobel Prize'

George Varga, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

"We're not in Tijuana any more!" declares a smiling Carlos Santana, near the start of "Carlos," the new film documentary about his rags-to-riches life.

That statement is reinforced by the fact the pioneering Latin-rock guitarist said it while seated on the patio of his elegant Las Vegas home, overlooking a lush golf course.

But while this 10-time Grammy Award-winner no longer resides in the U.S./Mexico border city where he grew up — from the age of 7 — Tijuana is still very much in him.

That point is emphasized in "Carlos," which premieres Saturday in selected cities around the world, including Tijuana. After additional public screenings Sunday and Wednesday, it goes into general release Sept. 29.

"My Tijuana is the world now," said the mustachioed guitarist. "I live in three different places on this planet and they are all the same house, just a different room."

Santana and his second wife, Santana band drummer Cindy Blackman Santana, have homes in Kauai, the San Francisco Bay Area and Las Vegas, the city where several interviews for "Carlos" were filmed.


A Sony Pictures Classics release, "Carlos" was directed by two-time Emmy Award-winner Rudy Valdez. It was produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, whose previous film credits together range from "Apollo 13" and the Oscar-winning "A Beautiful Mind" to the documentaries "The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years," "Jay-Z: Made in America" and "Pavarotti."

A high point of "Carlos" is the footage it shows of its subject with his band, his musician father, José, and his father's mariachi group during their two back-to-back 1992 concerts at Tijuana's Bullring by the Sea.

In a subsequent scene, the present-day Santana watches with rapt attention a TV interview with his dad — conducted in Spanish — shot at that concert 33 years ago.

José Santana died in 1997. He was most decidedly not a fan of rock music but was a fan of his son. The visible impact that his filmed comments have on his famed son, decades after his death, account for one of the most quietly emotional scenes in "Carlos."


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