Rebelión is a co-production of Rhayuela Films from Colombia, Leyenda from Argentina and Alacrán Group from the US

Rhayuela Films and director of the Colombian film Rebelión: Making movies is also an act of rebellion and resistance
Edison Monroy|28 de octubre de 2022

José Luis Rugeles, founding partner of the Colombian production house Rhayuela Films, is the director of Rebelión, a film that will be released in Colombia on November 3 and is about the story of Joe Arroyo, one of the most important musicians in Latin America.

The tape was shot in 2021 with the pandemic and social protests in Colombia as backdrop. “When you already have the money, the actors' difficult agendas, you cannot move, so it was time to do it or else, because pushing the date would have cost a lot more money and for sure the film would not be done. We were suffering, but we also understood that making movies was an act of rebellion and resistance,” said Rugeles, who has been behind the series Mil Colmillos for HBO Max or movies like Alías María, García, among others.

Rebelión is a co-production of Rhayuela Films from Colombia, Leyenda from Argentina and Alacrán Group from the US. The feature film, starring John Narváez and Angie Cepeda, is the story of Joe Arroyo, but not a biography, instead it explores the creative side of a man who did not have a musical academy training and composed his songs from sounds that he created in his head.

“For Rebelión we based on the story of the tormented genius and what he did to create and make that music that makes us all dance. It is a story told from hotel rooms around the world at different times. It is a vindication of the genius of Joe because we generally dance to it, we enjoy it, but we never talk about his genius,” said the director.

Most of the shooting took place in interiors that reflected hotel rooms and corridors in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena and Barranquilla. “We built everything. It was a production design by Diego López, who is the same one who works with Fernando Trueba. We also did exteriors in New York,” added Rugeles.

A fan of salsa and of Joe Arroyo, Rugeles confessed that the idea and development of the film in its beginnings was simple thanks to that. “The film began finding me and then I found it. Mauricio Silva, Joe's biographer, on one of those party nights, told me 'you have to make Joe’s movie'. Then at a film festival where I took Alias María, I had to pitch the next film and I did it about Rebelión and we wrote it in a week with my wife at that time, during a period of my life in which we were living from one hotel to the other like in the movie.”

Finally, another of the aspects that Rugeles highlighted was the music, which was performed live during the scenes. “That gives it a different liveliness that can be felt. There are mistakes, but they are part of the rehearsals of any group, which is what we show. We chose all the musicians by casting, they are all masters and several played with Joe. I like music performed by humans, not robots,” he concluded.