A Ten Part Series
Growing up as a Chicana listening to the ghost stories my grandfather told, it became natural to look at the world as a mystical place. Before my grandfather died, my mother documented the oral history of our family back to 1628. I used this research and combined it with my grandfather’s rich legacy of storytelling to develop Mexican Ghost Stories, a collection of narratives that honors my grandfather’s memory while relaying the complex history of the Mexican people living on both sides of the Mexican/American border.
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Mexican Ghost Stories is a one hour episodic dramatic thriller told through the eyes of a Chicana rapper living on Chicago’s South Side. Named after the Aztec Corn Goddess, TONZI is a tatted twenty-five year old who is hoping for her big break. Her boss bitch of a manager and best friend SCEANA is planning a cross country tour from the Midwest to Texas. Her estranged father ROBERTO is a workaholic who sells corn on the streets of Milwaukee in hopes of opening his own storefront.
As she prepares for her tour, Tonzi begins experiencing haunting visions involving an evil spirit known as WOMAN IN WHITE. In one vision, her 400 year old ancestors are slaughtered. In another, a baby is stolen.
During this time, her father, who is also undocumented, has been arrested. Worried her father will be deported, Tonzi reconnects with him only to discover a family secret, her presumed deceased grandfather is alive. She also learns her grandfather is the same man in most of
Realizing she can double her tour to Texas as a quick trip to Mexico, Tonzi decides she will meet the only person she believes can stop the visions, the same man who keeps popping up in these apparitions, her grandfather, BERNABE CORTÉS. Believing a family curse has reemerged and in fear for his daughter’s life, Roberto decides to join Tonzi on her trip that could also reconnect him with his father. Together, along with an oblivious Scheana, the three set out on a cross-country journey.
Throughout the series, Tonzi and Roberto’s 2000+ mile journey from Chicago to Mexico is filled with highlights and turbulence. Tonzi and her father write “Ni de aqui ni de aya”— a song about not knowing where you belong. Tonzi’s vision predicting her grandfather’s death forces her to cancel performances. Immigration officials raid one of the motels they stay at. Tonzi discovers her mother was in a mental institution. Scheana books Tonzi a slot at the world famous Lollapalooza.
When father and daughter finally arrive at the US/Mexico border, Tonzi learns one last secret. She’s not a US citizen. Knowing how difficult it would be to get back in the United States, Tonzi is faced with a choice. Does she leave her life and career in Chicago, or does she give it all up to see her dying grandfather one last time.
Mexican Ghost Stories is rooted in my family’s 400-year legacy in Aramberri, Mexico. The haunting visions Tonzi experiences throughout the series are inspired by the ghost stories my grandfather shared with me. These tales foretold my grandfather’s death, revealed a family curse and warned of ghosts disguised as hitchhikers. Each of my grandfather's stories will be the core of Tonzi’s visions. Just as they terrified me through my life, they will do the same for Tonzi as she journey’s back to the land that holds family secrets, spirits and legends.
Four-hundred years of oral history as told by my grandfather, researched by my mother, and written & produced by me, Daniela Cortés.
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