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Diego Luna on Chavez film and getting American backing


  • Photo 1 of 6
    Diego Luna Filming

    DIEGO LUNA on location filming CESAR CHAVEZ.

    - © Copyright Pantelion Films 2014

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    MICHAEL PEÑA and ROSARIO DAWSON

    MICHAEL PEÑA as CESAR CHAVEZ and ROSARIO DAWSON as DOLORES HUERTA in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    - © Copyright Pantelion Films 2014

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    Farm workers cheering in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    Farm workers cheering in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    - © Copyright Pantelion Films 2014

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    DIEGO LUNA on location filming CESAR CHAVEZ.

    DIEGO LUNA on location filming CESAR CHAVEZ.

    - © Copyright Pantelion Films 2014

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    MICHAEL PEÑA as CESAR CHAVEZ in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    MICHAEL PEÑA as CESAR CHAVEZ in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    - © Copyright Pantelion Films 2014

  • Photo 6 of 6
    MICHAEL PEÑA as CESAR CHAVEZ in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    MICHAEL PEÑA as CESAR CHAVEZ in CESAR CHAVEZ.

    - © Copyright Pantelion Films 2014

Diego Luna, director of Cesar Chavez, with Kai Ryssdal in the Marketplace studio in Los Angeles, California.

The new film Cesar Chavez chronicles the life of the historic labor leader who fought for better wages and working conditions for farm workers. Chavez is the founder of the United Farm Workers Union and is known for his nonviolent approach toward bringing national attention to the plight of farm workers.

While Chavez’s life is well known, getting a film about a union leader to the silver screen is a challenge all in its own. Diego Luna, the director of the film, said the project got most its funding from supporters in Mexico. Luna said this is mainly because Hollywood doesn’t like to take risks at the box office; and a movie about a Latino labor leader isn’t always a surefire money maker.

“I heard many things like ‘How can this be told from the angle of a white American?’ said Luna, “I said ‘the problem is that his name is Cesar Chavez.' You want to do a film about a reporter who goes and meets Cesar Chavez? No.”

He explained that before his film on Chavez there had never been a motion picture biography done about a Latino figure who was not an entertainer.

“It’s quite ridiculous if you think about this community that grows and grows and grows, but it’s not represented in entertainment,” said Luna, “At least not with respect and the complexity, diversity, and cultural richness that it has.”

The film Cesar Chavez: History is made one step at time will be in theaters Friday, March 28.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

Diego Luna, director of Cesar Chavez, with Kai Ryssdal in the Marketplace studio in Los Angeles, California.

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