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January 17, 2022

Watsonville Film Festival plans Day of the Dead events

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) will present its fourth annual Día de los Muertos event at Watsonville City Plaza on Oct. 29, featuring a screening of the animated Disney/Pixar movie “Coco” as well as music, dance and art.

The free event, which brought thousands of people together before the pandemic, was held virtually in 2020. 

Things kick off at 4pm with dance performances by El Sistema, Academia de Música Ilusión, Estrellas de Esperanza, White Hawk Aztec Dancers and Esperanza del Valle. Pajaro Valley Arts and Watsonville Brillante will offer art activities, including paper butterflies and colorful mosaic making, and the Watsonville Public Library will roll out its BiblioVan, a mobile library.

The centerpiece of the celebration is the altars, which will be set up by local families and organizations to honor ancestors and loved ones who have died.

Pan de muerto (often called “Bread of the Dead”) made by local bakeries, and marigolds harvested in Pájaro Valley fields will be placed on the altars. The public is welcome to bring their own flowers and offerings to leave on a community altar.

“Coco” will screen in Spanish with English subtitles at sunset. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and warm clothes.

“We are thrilled to go back to the plaza to host this beautiful community celebration in person again,” said Consuelo Alba, executive director of WFF. “Families love coming to the Plaza to watch the beloved movie … and celebrate a festive holiday that honors loved ones who are no longer with us. We think this event will be a healing experience.”

From Oct. 27 to Nov. 2, WFF will offer an online film program, “Ofrendas y Altares,” featuring a selection of documentary films by director Lourdes Portillo and local filmmakers Eugenia Rentería, Gabriel Jesse Medina and Marcus Cisneros. 

Two live Zoom events will also be held: A community conversation in Spanish about the cycle of life and death hosted by Hospice of Santa Cruz County on Oct. 27 at 6pm, and a bilingual painting class with artist Nacho Moya on Oct. 28 at 6pm.

WFF is partnering with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, city of Watsonville and Hospice of Santa Cruz County to present the program. Additional support was given by the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Pajaro Valley Arts, Arte del Corazón, Moya Art Studio and Monterey Bay Murals.

“We are so honored to be sponsoring this year’s Watsonville Film Festival Día de los Muertos event,” says Cathy Conway, chief executive officer for Hospice of Santa Cruz County. “This event is an important opportunity to reflect on those we have loved and lost; to celebrate, honor and remember them in community with friends and family.”

For information on all events visit


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