“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.”-César Chávez
César Chávez galvanized mass support for farm workers’ rights in the 1960s by employing non-violent organizing tactics to instigate social change. Over 50 years ago, he co-founded the United Farm Workers with Dolores Huerta, organizing alongside labor leaders including Larry Itliong. Together they organized a multi-racial coalition of Filipino and Latino farm workers. On Monday March 31st we commemorate Chávez’s contributions with César Chávez Day (click here for a petition to make March 31st a federally recognized holiday).
Accordingly, this weekend is also the opening of Diego Luna’s new film, César Chávez, a biopic starring Michael Peña, America Ferrera, and Rosario Dawson (who recently made an appearance at the Kapor Center’s Latin@s in Tech pre-conference at SXSW). The film’s premiere is accompanied by the debut of a new translation app that allows viewers to sync headphones with the biopic and watch it in Spanish. This technology makes the film more accessible and closes gaps perpetuated by language barriers.
Initially, no American studios would fund Luna’s film because they did not believe that US audiences would pay see a movie about César Chávez. About seventy percent of the film’s budget comes from Mexican studios.
Our staff will be seeing the movie on opening day to endorse the project with our dollars. As Luna stated in an interview, “You rarely find films about this community, about the Latino experience […] This community is so important in this country. This is a country that celebrates every heroic story in cinema. They grab stories that are not heroic and make them heroic in films. The last film I remember being a biographical film was ‘Selena.’ There’s no other hit that has made it into the mainstream. It’s pathetic! Our goal is to show that there’s a market for these films, that there’s an audience that wants to be fed, that wants to be represented. But it’s not easy to prove something, you know? It will be easier for the next one if we succeed.” Supporting the movie in its opening weekend is especially critical to bolster the bankability of Latino representation in film, particularly movies that depict the history and political power of the Latino community.
César Chávez said, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” This César Chávez Day, let’s harness our collective organizing power to take action and uplift our communities.