High school never sounded so good.


In a part of America that rarely makes headlines, there is a small town with a group of teenagers who will captivate your ears and warm your heart. Mariachi High is a national primetime PBS special that showcases a year in the life of the champion mariachi ensemble at Zapata High School in South Texas. As they compete and perform with musical virtuosity, these teens and the music they play will inspire, surprise, and bring you to your feet. High school never sounded so good.

Mariachi High is a production of Rainlake in association with Latino Public Broadcasting, ITVS and Chicken & Egg Pictures, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Directors: Ilana Trachtman & Kim Connell
Producer: Kelly Sheehan
DP: Guy Mossman
2012, 57 minutes



“Pure fun” – Roger Ebert

“Mariachi High hits all the right notes: An underdog school district, a dedicated teacher, fiercely talented and determined students, and character-defining setbacks that raise the stakes for those ‘exhilarating off the charts’ moments of truth.” –

“Folk art and hope in phrases of music. ‘Glee’ without the contrivance … celebratory and inspirational … the accomplishment and electricity with which the violinists of Mariachi Halcon strike up a tune offers even more of a thrill!” – The New York Times

“Restoring hope in America’s teenagers: Mariachi High lauds education beyond the notes… the PBS documentary unearths how cultural arts education is inspiring youth to stay on the right path and to pursue big dreams.” – Houston Culture Map

“High School Mariachi Inspires Documentary” – Huffington Post

“Captures the magical dynamic of this talented group.” – NBC Latino

“A gem of a documentary… truly gripping!” – Salt Lake City Desert News

“The sweet sounds of Mariachi High.” – Houston Press

“Heartwarming” – Texas Monthly

“Gorgeously shot … a story of love of music, heartbreak, and hope.” — San Antonio Current

“Celebrating Hispanic Heritage at the Naval Observatory.” – White House Blog

PBS’ first-rate documentary is more than merely entertaining – it is instructive about the tenacity it takes to follow one’s dreams.  The teenagers we meet prove that we do have great kids in this country … The directors and producers are to be congratulated on making it so entertaining and fun as well as suspenseful.” – Latin Heat Magazine

The toe-tapping and spirit-stirring documentary Mariachi High … offers an unrivaled glimpse at how music traditions continue to shape young lives.” – Westword

Honors & Festival Highlights

Telly Award Winner
Norman Lear Foundation “Imagen” Award nominee
National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival Grand Jury Prize nominee
Official Selection, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival
Official Selection, Cine Los Americas
Official Selection, Tulipanes Latino Art & Film Festival
Official Selection, CineFestival en San Antonio
Official Selection, Global Peace Film Festival
Official Selection, CineSol Film Festival
Official Selection, Richmond Folk Festival
Official Selection, American Documentary Showcase presented by
the US State Department
Official Selection, Anythink Film Series, Denver, CO[/vc_column_text]