The plight of grape-pickers dramatised in 'Cesar Chávez'

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The plight of grape-pickers dramatised in 'Cesar Chávez'

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‘Cesar Chávez’ chronicles the life of the famous civil rights activist who founded the United Farm Workers labour union.

The movie, which recently premiered in Los Angeles, begins in the early sixties as Chávez decides to uproot his family and move to California to help fellow Mexicans working as low-paid grape-pickers.

John Malkovich takes on the role of the owner of a large industrial grape farm who leads the opposition to Chávez’s movement.

‘Cesar Chávez’ is Mexican actor Diego Luna’s Hollywood debut as a director. He described it as: “A message for those who make films in this country: they have to make stories about us, they have to celebrate our experience, they have to celebrate our heroes. We did it, it took us four years, that’s why you see me smiling like an idiot because I can’t stop thinking what it cost us to get here.”

Working conditions were very poor for the Mexican braceros, who also suffered racism and brutality at the hands of their employers and local Californians.

The movie’s lead is played by Michael Peña, a US actor of Mexican origin.

“I want the Latinos, and my Mexican people, to actually really be proud of it, you know, and then anyone else to be entertained by it,” said Peña. “I’ve been blessed and I’ve been fortunate with being able to do this and I really want them to enjoy it, I did it for them,” Peña

Premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, the film has received a mixed response from the critics, with one review calling it a heartfelt but muted portrait of the charismatic labour union leader.

‘Cesar Chávez’ is currently on worldwide release.

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