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The dramatic series seeks to reflect the reality experienced in mariachi competitions in schools in the United States. Photo: Getty.
The drama series hopes to reflect the reality experienced in mariachi competitions in schools in the United States. Photo: Getty Images.

The world of competitive mariachi bands set to be featured on TV

The producer and distributor Fremantle is working on a TV series based on mariachi competitions in U.S. high schools.

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The mariachi tradition remains rooted in the United States territories, where the Latino community has a strong presence in places like Texas.

The musical groups so typical of Mexico are not only experienced in Hispanic communities, but have also reached schools, where competitions between young teams are fierce.

A television drama series, produced by Fremantle, will seek to portray this reality. The company will also produce an unscripted series that will focus on the high school teams that participate in these mariachi competitions, especially in the Texas-Mexico border territory.

Mariachi Country will be based on the extensive report, “A Championship Season in Mariachi Country,” featured in the New York Times, which was written by the cultural anthropologist Cecilia Ballí. 

The production wants the public to immerse themselves in the fascinating and complex world of mariachis and to understand the preparation of young Latinos to excel in competitions.

“This is a vibrant, captivating and emotionally engaging world which is attracting the interest of notable scripted and documentary filmmakers alike. In following the true stories of these students and their communities, Fremantle aims to shine a light on authentic personal stories while also celebrating the endless universality that ties our communities and our country together,” said Dante Di Loreto, president of scripted programming at Fremantle US.

“Mariachi is growing throughout the country as a virtuosic art form and as a school music program. I love that this project tells a quintessentially American story about Latinos and the U.S.-Mexico border, and I’m excited that television will help bring it to larger audiences. It’s one of the most special things happening in arts education nationally, and the music will fill you with pride and joy,” said Ballí.

Fremantle is currently meeting with prospective writers and directors to adapt the drama series and is in conversations with doc filmmakers and producers for the unscripted series. The company and distributor has also confirmed Ballí as an executive producer.

The announcement of both series coincides with the premiere of the film Going Varsity in Mariachi at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. The documentary, directed by Sam Osborn and Alejandra Vásquez, stars students from Edinburg North High School in South Texas, who compete for the title of best mariachi band in the state.

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