Cesar Chavez began his organizing efforts in San Jose, California. So it may have been fitting that the last premier of the film about his life be released in San Jose.
More than 200 people gathered at The Tech Museum of Innovation for the private screening Wednesday night. Among them were Chavez’s sons Paul and Fernando, sister Rita, and brother Librado.
The movie, “Cesar Chavez, An American Hero,” takes the viewer through the work of Chavez between 1962 and 1972.
A lot happened in that time, so film director, Diego Luna, had a lot to show in the short time allowed in a motion picture.
Pena is adept at taking viewers through the Chavez family’s move to Delano, the march to Sacramento, the grape boycott, Chavez’s first fast, and his relationship with Senator Robert Kennedy.
The film gives viewers a peek at the struggles Chavez had with himself, and with his family.
The sacrifices were many, and the struggle to bring change to the way farm workers were treated created stress and rifts within the family, mainly his son Fernando.
America Ferrera was excellent in depicting Cesar’s widow, Helen, as leader within the family who gave Chavez the strength and support to continue La Causa (the cause).
Today, Helen still lives in the same small, humble home on the Chavez compound in Kern County, a vast swath of land in the Tehachapi Mountains, which is still the home of the National Chavez Center, and it’s where Chavez is buried
John Malcovich played an incredible role in depicting one of the growers who battled against Chavez and the efforts of the UFW.
“It wasn’t Hollywood. It was as real is it can get,” said Rudy Chavez Medina, Chavez’s nephew. Medina was referring to the absence of over dramatization that sometimes accompanies motion pictures.
In the end, the viewer, whether Latino, Black, Asian or Caucasian, is sent home with a better understanding and appreciation of a huge part of American history.
As a former farm worker, it reinforces a sense of pride in a man who never asked for a lot for himself, a man who died without having much in a material sense, but a man who had everything in every other sense.
Many view Cesar Chavez as an American hero.
“My grandfather is put so high in people’s eyes. He is this great figure that many of our children think it’s unattainable. They think it’s impossible to be the next Cesar Chavez. The truth is it’s not impossible. There is the next Cesar among them, and we hope this film will help bring that out,” Chavez’s granddaughter, Teresa Chavez Delgado recently said.
The film opens March 28 in theaters nationwide.