Erin Roan MacDonald

See Ceasar Chavez, The Movie

Warning: mild spoilers, mostly opinions about the film

I am glad I went to see this movie and I would see it again tomorrow. I was moved by the tenacity and bravery of Cesar Chavez illustrated in the film. He and rallying farm workers kept going fighting for decent working conditions and wages after dealing with so much resistance, fear of retribution and the danger of being hurt or killed.

It meant a lot to me because the issue of food, safe and healthy food  is part of my personal foundation growing up on an organic family farm. Food justice and sovereignty for workers is a cause I feel very passionate about. It can be inspiring seeing social justice in action and when real change happens– it’s wonderful! Seeing the fight for justice set in an earlier time made Cesar’s vision and accomplishments seem especially courageous and innovative.

from the movie:

Once social changes begins it can’t be reversed.

the movie tagline:

History is made one step at a time.

It’s an energetic cinematic piece and a trip back in the past. Set in the late 60’s when Cesar Chavez moves to Delano, CA to organize farm workers and start a union. It is directed by Diego Luna most known for starring in Y Tu Mama Tambien. It is produced by and stars John Malkovich as the cold patriarch of the grape farm and includes a cameo from Julian Sands (Room with a View).

Robert F. Kennedy played an important role in supporting Cesar Chavez and the farm workers. We see him in the film daring to step out and do the right thing by supporting farm workers before he was killed during his candidacy for president in 1968.

I listened to a NPR Latino Voices interview after I saw the movie and I kind of wish I hadn’t. It’s a critique where they discuss the importance of this story but they suggest a narrow portrayal of Cesar Chavez. Reviewers felt that it was a one-sided depiction of Cesar and we weren’t given full access to his personality. And that other key figures in the farm workers movement such as Dolores Huerta were down played.

I was sad after I listened to the review because after watching the film I was exhilarated with Cesar’s will and perseverance. It was a heroic example of possibility but the review made me doubt that Cesar really was all that.

Either way they did it; with Cesar, with the farm workers, with Dolores Huerta, with non-violence, with the grape boycott, with workers walking 340 miles from Delano to Sacramento in 1966. The owners of the grape farms finally coincided and a union was born: United Farm Workers (UFW)!

The crazy thing is that all they wanted was to have decent wages, bathrooms, healthcare and dignity. And yet that was fought for 5 yrs to the tune of a 17 million dollars loss to grape farm owners before they agreed to any of the terms their workers wanted.

Si Si Puede!

Also I want to make a plug for the New Parkway movie theater in Oakland! What is not to love? Food, couches, beer, popcorn with lots of yummy toppings like nutritional yeast while you watch full screen movies! I went to see Cesar Chavez on a Wednesday night where 20% off profits goes to local non-profits.


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