Review by Steve Schneider

Stepping into the dancing shoes of "The Buena Vista Social Club" and "Standing in the Shadows of Motown”, “Los Zafiros-Music from the Edge of Time” sets out to validate another decades-old musical legacy. World music, the movie asserts, may have begun with the title group ("The Sapphires"), a Cuban vocal/instrumental combo of the early 1960s that blended native, American, Latin and African sounds. The act became a national treasure and even toured Europe before coming apart in the 1970s.

The movie is structured around a reunion of surviving members Manuel Galban and Miguel Cancio, the latter taking his first steps on Cuban soil since emigrating to the U.S. in the early 1990s. The shadow of political isolation hangs over the ensuing travelogue, in which the reunited partners visit old haunts and swap recollections of how sweet life was when they were harmonizing kings.

The doc doesn't exactly shy away from the illness and alcoholism that helped splinter the group, but neither does it dissect those tragedies in detail. A few dots remain unconnected as director DeStefano instead dazzles us with indigenous beauty -- dig that incredibly blue Cuban water! -- and solicits locals of all ages and backgrounds to testify to just how great the group was.

There's something reassuring and proudly Latin about Los Zafiros' enduring, cross-generational appeal. Notice also how many of the emotionally charged meetings between Galban, Cancio and other of their erstwhile musical collaborators lead to apparently spontaneous outbursts of melody. All other things being equal, Los Zafiros and their disciples obviously communicate best through music. It's a timely reminder that shared culture can be more than just a consumer product.