About the Filmmaker

                                                                                Michelle E. Aguilar

                                                                                Michelle E. Aguilar

As a Documentary Filmmaker I am committed to social equality and fair representation of marginalized populations. I believe a documentary project directly reflects the relationship between the filmmaker and those being filmed, thus, my work explicitly represents the trust, commitment and reverence I have established with those who share their story with me. 

I make my films with the intention of connecting people, alleviating ethnocentrism, and providing visual and narrative evidence to help people learn about the world in which we live, consequently sparking a reaction, probing questions and exploring the idea of social change. El Cacao personalizes the cacao farmers that are disenfranchised in their country and in the global economy. By harnessing the power of narrative visuals and technology, I am able to contribute to an art that provides an accessible and entertaining avenue for people to learn, grow, connect, and act.

I had the opportunity to live and work alongside cacao farmers for over two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama. This film goes beyond the mainstream story of chocolate and delves into the intimate lives of the most important person in the chocolate supply chain, the cacao farmer. 

~ Michelle 


Original Score by: Simón Wilson 

I am a composer, producer, vocalist, and pianist currently residing in Santa Rosa, CA. I grew up in Sonoma County playing piano and singing from a young age and have been involved in various bands and projects throughout the years, currently as a member of Kingsborough from Santa Rosa. From 2010 to 2014 I was a student at UCSC and graduated with a B.A. in Music, emphasis on Vocal Performance, and a Minor in Economics. During all four years of college, I was involved in an acappella group on campus called Cloud 9. I began arranging songs for the group in 2012, and became musical director in 2013-14. After taking the Composition and Orchestration classes at UCSC in my senior year, I started composing more and making connections with classmates to write music for their projects. 

Since September of 2014, I have collaborated with a choreographer on a piece for her dance, written music for three videogames at UCSC, one of them winning the grand prize for the Best Game at the Sammy Awards in 2015, produced and written all original music for an album I recorded with my friend who is a poet and rapper, and done work on a short film called El Cacao with a graduate student in the Social Documentary program at UCSC. After getting some experience doing student projects, I feel I am ready to take my work into the professional world and am currently taking steps to make that happen.

I believe music is so integral to every part of life and that those who are blessed with creative spirit and ability must do everything they can to preserve the power music can have when combined with other art forms. It is truly an amazing thing when the visual and auditory senses are brought together in such expressive ways, and this is only possible when the maximum amount of effort is exerted on both parts. Thus, I am always looking to create more, collaborate more, and share my music with anyone who will listen.