SxSW Reaction – Rebelión

It was late in the festival and a major thunderstorm hit Austin and as a result I missed a Midnighters screening and attendance dropped due to fear that the storm would continue into the morning. I peeked out of the house I was staying at, saw it was rather clear and made my way to the Zach Theatre to see the mix-music doc/narrative Rebelión to a rather small audience.

ABOUT: The film portrays a vulnerable, anonymous Joe Arroyo in his claustrophobic journey through different moments in his life. A musical genius, singer and composer, Joe’s music and unique voice could not be contained on stage. The film follows the man into his most private depths to the beat of his lover’s soul, tormented by his great love: music. It is an atemporal exploration of his life, an adventure into the dark, solitary place where Joe’s talent was at its rawest and his emotions and impulses were free.

José Luis Rugeles Gracia with SxSW Programmer Jim Kolmar at the Zach Theatre. JW, photo

JASON’S REACTION: This narrative that feels like a doc was part of the 24 Beats Per Second section of the festival and is quite slow in the first act as it sets up Arroyo’s life, and yet it REALLY picks up towards the middle when we see our musician perform in his apartment with a small band, and the movie springs to life with its great sound mix and emphasis on long takes, letting all of the performances in the room play out and making us really connect with Joe’s music. I admit that I didn’t know anything about this man or the music going in but I was definitely tapping my feet along and slowly learned more about the troubled musician in its nearly two hour run time.

Ultimately, REBELLION won’t go much outside of the festival circuit and it wasn’t very well attended though a lively Q&A followed the screening from noted filmmaker José Luis Rugeles Gracia who talked at great detail about the inspiration and putting all of the music together. Still, I am very happy I saw it and hope it finds an audience especially with music fans.

This film and many others like it showed at South By Southwest this year from March 10-19. For more information on this and other titles, point your browser to!

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