Guillermo Rosabal-Coto


Costa Rican born Guillermo Rosabal-Coto is an ethnographer, sociologist and music educator who studies how the Western establishment alienates the relationships that we affirm, explore, and celebrate when engaging with music in our daily life, from a Latin American, decolonial perspective. His latest scholarly work, which informs the short film “We are the music” can be accessed at:;
Your film is entered in our Best Indie Awards. What is your film about?
“We are the Music” is about how social mandates govern our personal relationship with music. In Western societies, most people are colonized by institutional values in their emotions, memories, and self-image in relation to music making and experiencing. People’s every day, personal ways to make or experience music are often considered incorrect or in need to be domesticated. As a music educator and researcher, I know that every person is musical and each individual bears musical knowledge in his/her body, valid in its own right. We must do something about this!

What are your ambitions with your project?
I wish that the audience becomes aware of the richness, power, and legitimacy of the relationships that they explore, affirm, and celebrate when singing, listening to music, or engaging with music in diverse ways.
How was the shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
I wanted to show, as authentically as possible, someone who felt at ease in how he/she is in music and who was not a professional musician like me. I found this person in a farmer’s market in San José, the capital city of Costa Rica: Mr. Heriberto Moya-Chaves (known by the nickname “Don Beto”). A farmer from the rural district Cachí, in the province of Cartago, Don Beto explores, affirms, and celebrates very interesting relationships with music when he dances in the character of the late Mexican comedian Cantinflas, to make people laugh in local schools, churches, and hospitals.

For what target group is your film?

The film was originally conceived as a tool for my own university teaching. Its target audience were faculty, students, and researchers. As I began to share my film with nonprofessional musicians and people outside academia, I witnessed that its message is quite universal and can be understood by anybody.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?

I wanted to depict a little of my own itinerary and quest for answers, and to portray another real-life character’s itinerary, with depth and simplicity. That is why I chose to shoot in black and white, appealing to textures, and resorted to close-ups and unusual angles of pavement, cracks, and rocks on the streets. There is something deep and mysterious that seems to call us from underneath...
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the possibility of telling stories in ways that could make people learn, reflect, and become better people. I have done this as a scholar, through narrative research, over the years. This is the first time I do it on film.

Who is your greatest role model?
Pedro Almodóvar, especially for his film “All about my Mother”.

Which movies are your favorites? Why?

It’s hard to choose from so many! Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Citizen Kane and other classics come to mind, because they were so ambitious and groundbreaking in their visuals and soundtrack (among other things), in their time. I am also fond of Xavier Dolan’s fresh, but striking work, and admire Jafar Panahi’s films, such as “Taxi Teheran”, because of his candid but humanizing manner to be realistic.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?

In everyday life and doings of silenced people; in the little, hidden things of everyday life.

How would you rate current filmmaking?

Techniques and resources are more abundant and accessible than ever before! With the advent of AI, what limits could there be? There so much room for everyone and everything! I am grateful for being able to experience this in my own work.

What are your next projects?

Definitely, my next project is to expand the itinerary I started in “We are the Music”.

Find out more at:
IMDb link: