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COCO tells children the story of what Día de los Muertos means

I attended the interview as a guest of Disney

Most of you who have been following my journeys over the past couple of years know, I have a love for the country of Mexico. I first started spending time in the country so that I could immerse my adopted son into the culture of his biological father, but as I spent time in the country, it became more than that to our family. Our family spends every possible moment that we have in the beautiful country, learning about the culture, enjoying delicious cuisine, and making lifelong friends. We don’t visit the country to stay and play at plush resorts, but to explore and learn about the culture. We’ve already made over ten trips to Mexico this year with more plans to return before the end of the year. There is one trip to Mexico that impacted our family the most, and that was when we visited during Día de los Muertos.

Our visit to Mexico during Día de los Muertos was an emotional one for all of us. That evening, we left our resort and took a cab into town. When we arrived, there were ofrendas (altars) that lined the sidewalk of the harbor where families displayed photos, foods, gifts, and items for their deceased family members. Some local kids were performing on a stage in the center of the Malecón, and my son started talking to a young girl around his age about her family ofrenda. When I turned around, I saw them both on their knees together holding hands. I couldn’t help but cry.

When I heard that Disney*Pixar were making the upcoming film COCO, I was extremely curious. I got the honor of getting an invite to Pixar Animation Studios to talk with the creators of the film. One question that I got a lot from my friends was “is it going to be similar to The Book of Life?,” and after learning about the film, they are both about Día de los Muertos, but COCO fully embraces the significance of the cultural event. It is so much more than a day to paint your face like a colorful skull and do crafts with your kids and is a day in which the Mexican culture celebrates the lives of their deceased loved ones.

While talking with the Director Lee Unkrich, Writer and Co-Director Adrian Molina & Producer Darla K. Anderson about the making of the film, they spent a lot of time in Mexico learning about Día de los Muertos. One thing that they learned was that it is celebrated differently across Mexico. Some cities they have big celebrations and others spend the day mourning. Just like cultural events are celebrated differently amongst families around the world, this day in the same for Mexican families.

One thing that I loved about the film is that they spent a lot of time in Guanajuato. If you don’t know about Guanajuato, it is a Pueblos Mágicos or “magical village.” One of my dearest friends, Livy, who I met in Mexico, and since traveled to many destinations in Mexico with is from Queretaro which is not far from Guanajuato and is also a magical place. She has shared with me so many pictures, stories, and brought me food from the city. It is a place that I have had on my bucket list to visit.

A lot of the imagery in the film COCO was inspired from the filmmakers time in Guanajuato. I remember walking along the streets of Mexico City during an art fair with my friend Livy and her parents who were talking about the colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and that I would fall in love with Guanajuato.

While I haven’t had a chance to visit Guanajuato or Queretaro yet, I fell in love with it after watching just a few minutes of the film COCO. When talking with the creators of the film, the one thing that touched my heart the most was that they felt that the Mexican people have always loved their films, welcomed them with open arms when visiting their country, and making this film was their way of giving their love back to the country.

COCO is a film that every parent should bring their children to see so that they can learn about the true meaning behind the Día de los Muertos. The film will immerse children into the Mexican culture in a magical way. With great storytelling, vivid animation, and beautiful music, COCO tells the story behind the meaning of Día de los Muertos in a way that children will be able to understand fully. The beautiful movie, COCO come out in theaters on November 22nd. Learn more about COCO online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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