Muertos Fest returns with special television broadcast for its 8th annual celebration

click to enlarge Muertos Fest returns with special television broadcast for its 8th annual celebration (2)
Bryan Rindfuss
Billed as the largest Day of the Dead festival in Texas, Día de los Muertos at Hemisfair — or Muertos Fest to those who prize brevity — will return virtually for its 8th annual installment.

The event will be broadcast as a one-hour special at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 31, in partnership with Sinclair Broadcasting CW35.

Directed by award-winning filmmaker Jim Mendiola, the TV special will showcase San Antonio's unique take on the Day of the Dead through music, dance and spoken word performances.

The broadcast will also feature traditional elements of the holiday, such as community altars, or ofrendas. A small group of altars will be featured in mini-documentaries, allowing viewers to learn more about the creators of the altars and their subjects.

In light of the pandemic, the special will put COVID-19's impact on the Latinx community at the forefront.

"If there ever was a time to honor those we’ve lost to the disease, and to thank those farmworkers and care givers and grocery store clerks, it’s now," Mendiola said in a statement. "COVID’s impact on the Latino community has been especially hard, and we will remember lives lived and recognize the resilience of our community through altars, songs and stories of those we’ve lost."

Muertos Fest will have an expanded music lineup this year, including Grammy-award winners Los Lobos, Lila Downs and Carla Morrison, along with National Medal of Art Recipient Santiago Jimenez Jr. — the brother of Flaco Jimenez — plus live performances by local favorites Los Nahuatlatos and Tallercito de Son.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Selena's death, so to honor her legacy the festival will showcase a performance of "Fotos y Recuerdos" featuring Chris Perez, the late Tejano legend's husband; Girl in a Coma's Nina Diaz; Mariachi Campanas de America; and Ceci Zavala.

The program also includes performances by San Antonio poets, in addition to short films by Ray Santisteban.

For those that miss the initial broadcast, or are outside of the San Antonio market, the virtual festival will be rebroadcast with additional material on the Muertos Fest website at 7 p.m. Sunday, November 1.

In addition to the virtual fest, Hemisfair visitors will have the chance to visit a community altar and view art installations by Momo and Pompa on display at the park through November 2.

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