“You Can’t Humiliate Someone Who Has Pride. You Can’t Oppress Someone Who’s Not Afraid Anymore.” – Cesar Chavez
Local Associations are going to the movies March 28th and taking friends. Lots of friends. Because they bought out the theater, and for a very good reason. We must pack the theaters and make this film a success.
The premier of the historic Cesar Chavez movie will hit theaters Friday, March 28. Educators are excited that this story is finally being told. Union activists are excited that this story is finally being told. Civil rights activists are excited that this story is finally being told. Faith communities and parent groups and Latino groups and immigrant groups and justice groups and any group of individuals who know about Cesar Chavez’s real story and want others to know about Cesar Chavez’s real story are excited.
I’ll admit, that I’m excited for the same reason all of the above are excited. For as long as I can remember, Cesar Chavez has been my inspiration. I don’t know many heroes who were so ambitious for their cause and so personally humble. I’m not sure people who are familiar with only the Cliff Notes of his life understand the profound goodness of this American hero.
Director Diego Luna’s Cesar Chavez dramatizes the pain, the hope, the sacrifice he and his family made. We see the individual heroism of a man, but we feel the collective miracle of the California grape boycott and the thousands who made it happen. Michael Peña brings to life Cesar’s quiet determination to confront injustice. You’ll recognize America Ferrera from TV’s Ugly Betty and Real Women Have Curves, but she is all grown up here and plays Helen, the wife and mother who stands by Cesar when she’s not sure even he really understands the dangers he faces. Rosario Dawson is transformed into the take-no-prisoners, Dolores Huerta. And nobody plays a bad guy like John Malkovich plays a bad guy. And by that I mean he plays the grape-grower as a flawed and arrogant human being, but not as a cardboard villain. You will understand the deep-rooted racism that drives him, but you will also see his confusion as the comfortable world he knows shifts with the Civil Rights tide of the 60s and begins making demands of him with which he must come to terms.