A documentary showcasing the Day of the Dead celebration at Pájaro Valley Art Gallery premieres at the 24th Pacific Rim Film Festival on Sunday and Wednesday.
"Common Ground" is 30-minute film by Veremos Productions, a team of longtime Watsonville residents Consuelo Alba, the director, and her producer/husband John Speyer.
The documentary shows how the Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead has been embraced but also transformed into a unique and lively multicultural event that has been growing in Watsonville for 20 years. The tradition is seen through the activities of the Pájaro Valley Art Council's annual Day of the Dead exhibit, called Mi Casa Es Tu Casa.
When the filmmakers documented the Mi Casa Es Tu Casa exhibit in 2009, it was pulsing with activity as a diverse group of community members set up traditional and artistic altars pay homage to the memories of their loved ones. Participants included Corralitos Cultural Center, Pájaro Valley High School Art Club, SOMOS LGBT, Templo Guaracy da Terra, Asian American Women's Art Association, as well as families, schools and other community groups.
The filmmakers documented the process of setting up altars with no expectations of what would occur. The result is a rich and colorful tapestry of personal stories, family traditions and community spirit that emphasizes what we all have in common.
"The Pájaro Valley Art Gallery is the only gallery in South County. It's a great asset in our community," Alba said. "Unfortunately not enough people know about it. Hopefully the film will put the gallery on people's radars and highlight the historical and social importance of this annual exhibit."
The 30-minute documentary will screen at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Watsonville Cabrillo College Center, and at noon Wednesday at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz. Both screenings are free.