Loft Film Fest opens with documentary about a varsity mariachi band from Texas

The Loft Cinema’s 2023 Loft Film Fest will open with a party and showing dedicated to the documentary titled “Going Varsity in Mariachi,” a film directed by Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn, following a high school mariachi band as they prepare and work through their competition season.

“We are so excited to show our movie in Tucson,” Vasquez said. “We’re both from Borderlands communities. Sam has lots of family in Tucson and I’m from El Paso. We want people to be proud about being from borderlands communities.”

“Going Varsity in Mariachi” follows the Edinburg North High School’s Mariachi Oro in South Texas under the mentorship of their coach Abel Acuña as they navigate their road to a national championship and their lives as teenagers. 

Osborn said that although the documentary tells the stories of team captains Abby Garcia, Bella Luna and Marlena Torres as musicians, it’s also a coming of age story.

“It was special to see the students apply what they learn from being in mariachi to their lives and how they handle the quotidian and the mundane,” Osborn said.

“Students we met as freshmen are going on to be juniors and seniors and I’m so proud of them,” Vasquez said.

Osborn and Vasquez said their goal is to promote the funding of the arts in schools, which is a theme in the documentary as the mariachi program is operating with a “shoestring budget.”

“Music and arts programs are consistently defunded and deprioritized in schools,” Osborn said.

“Yeah and especially cultural music programs like mariachi,” Vasquez continued. “And they should be valued as cultural and not as novelty programs.”

“Mariachi doesn’t belong only in restaurants,” Osborn added.

Vasquez and Osborn spent over a school year with the mariachi group as they worked on the documentary, becoming a part of their community with time. The opening night party at the Loft Cinema Patio in Tucson will be on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. 

There will be food from Sito’s Fresh Market and a champagne toast to the Loft Film Fest – the champagne glass is complimentary. 

The mariachi bands from Davis Elementary School and Pueblo High School will be performing at the Screen 1 stage at 6 p.m. 

Their performances will be followed by the showing of “Going Varsity in Mariachi” at 7 p.m. Mario Celis will be the master of ceremonies at the event. General admission is $12 and $10 for Loft Members. 

“Going Varsity in Mariachi” has been screened at festivals such as Sundance and True/False.