With US-Mexican relations at their lowest point in recent memory, Disney Pixar is set to release “Coco,” a cinematic celebration of Mexico that its director said Tuesday is an antidote to the “negativity” of the current political climate.
Set in Mexico against the backdrop of the country’s traditional Day of the Dead festival, “Coco” tells the story of a boy who inadvertently ends up in the land of the dead, taking him on a vivid tour of Mexican history and culture.
Director Lee Unkrich, who won an Oscar for best animated film for “Toy Story 3,” said that while the project did not start out being political, events conspired to make its setting particularly relevant.
“Certainly when we began making this movie six years ago, it was a very different political climate than we find ourselves in now,” he told a press conference in Mexico City, where the film is being screened at a gala event Tuesday night.
“That being said, we are all very proud of the film. And I think it’s a good thing that it’s coming out now, because there’s been a lot of negativity in the world.”
The movie is the first from Pixar dedicated entirely to a foreign culture — a risky bet for the animation studio and parent company Disney at a time when US President Donald Trump’s “America first” populism holds sway.
Mexican-American co-director Adrian Molina said he was confident the movie would connect with audiences everywhere.
“That familiar connection to a Pixar film, that’s deeper than I’ve ever been able to go, and I think create a story that’s unique for the studio, that’s unique for the world,” he said.
“Strictly from my personal standpoint, I’m very thankful for it because it helped me to grow, to reconnect with my roots, and to create something that I am very proud of, very proud to share with my family in the United States and Mexico and beyond.”
“Coco” features the voice of Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia Bernal in both the English and Spanish versions. It premiered Friday at the Morelia International Film Festival in Mexico, to warm reviews.
It opens in Mexico on October 27, the United States on November 22 and worldwide on November 23.