SAPD Issues Thousands of Tickets for Homelessness

SAPD Issues Thousands of Tickets for Homelessness

News: Data and records obtained by the Current show that between January 1, 2013, and early October of this year the San Antonio... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta and Elaine Wolff 10/22/2014
6 Sinfully Good Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in SA

6 Sinfully Good Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in SA

Food & Drink: Cheesy Jane’s. Multiple locations, If the name is any indicator, this San Antonio staple doesn’t mess around when it comes to... By Tommie Ethington 10/22/2014
A Closer Look: The ins and outs of a few important races

A Closer Look: The ins and outs of a few important races

News: For more than a year now gubernatorial candidates Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott have dominated airwaves and secured way... By Mark Reagan 10/22/2014
‘Walking the Camino’ Explores a Treacherous Trek Through Spain

‘Walking the Camino’ Explores a Treacherous Trek Through Spain

Screens: In the Middle Ages, pilgrims walked the 500-mile El Camino de Santiago de Compostela as a pilgrimage to the tomb of Apostle St. James. It was an... By Stephen James Ross 10/22/2014
Failure Is Not an Option: George Lopez returns to SA

Failure Is Not an Option: George Lopez returns to SA

Arts & Culture: It is evident comedian George Lopez is still a little sensitive about the on-again, off-again relationship he’s had with television. Whatever the... By Kiko Martínez 10/22/2014

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email


No Se Pudo: The mostly unexceptional ‘César Chávez’ biopic

Photo: Courtesy Photo, License: N/A

Courtesy Photo

Michael Peña as César Chávez

As the credits began to roll at the end of director Diego Luna’s much-anticipated film César Chávez during its North American premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, a number of moviegoers sprung from their seats in spirited applause. Led by audience members wearing red shirts with the United Farm Workers insignia (a black Aztec eagle) printed on the front, the standing ovation was spurred by the same small but enthusiastic group that gathered in front of the theater before the screening to chant “Sí se puede” (the UFW’s motto, which translates into “Yes, it can be done”) in unison and show their support for the long overdue film, a biopic on the late Mexican-American labor union organizer and civil rights activist who co-founded the UFW in 1962. It was the same faction that cheered every time actor Michael Peña (End of Watch), playing the lead role of Chávez, made a grandstanding speech or shared a subtle life lesson, and that jeered when archival footage was shown of union-busting U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

An Interview with Diego Luna, Director of 'César Chávez'

Locally, these are the same men and women who faithfully organize the annual César Chávez March for Justice, which takes place this year on March 29, the day after the film opens in San Antonio, and who were successful in their hard-fought bid to officially change the name of Downtown’s Durango Boulevard to honor Chávez’s legacy. To them, Chávez has earned every ounce of admiration for his hard work (he passed away in 1993) on behalf of thousands of underrepresented migrant farmworkers. If anything, César Chávez, the movie, follows suit and gives Chávez supporters the high-profile film version they have been longing for. Cinematically speaking, there should be plenty of pathos and drama to appeal to those who aren’t driven to the film for historical reasons alone.


Unfortunately, César Chávez, as directed by Luna, is not that film. A fine tribute to an extraordinary man, yes, but it is not something that will have a lasting effect in the same biographical sense as other social-issue films like Norma Rae, Milk or Dallas Buyers Club. Luna’s attempt to depict Chávez’s story on the big screen is well-intended, but there is only so much a director can do when the screenplay is an exercise in hero worshipping.

Written by Academy Award nominees Keir Pearson (Hotel Rwanda) and Timothy J. Sexton (Children of Men), César Chávez begins with Chávez (Peña) already at the center of the fight for immigrant workers’ rights—little backstory is given for those unfamiliar with Chávez’s early life and what might have actually motivated him to undertake the cause. The struggle itself is what seems to matter most to Luna and his pair of proven scribes. Plenty of conflict unfolds as we watch Chávez, with support from his wife Helen (America Ferrera) and co-UFW founder Dolores Huerta (an underused Rosario Dawson), organize his fellow farmworkers to demand better working conditions and wages, which ultimately leads to a strike and boycott of table grapes grown on California vineyards. Actor John Malkovich (Red 2) goes through the motions as Bogdanovitch, one of the pigheaded grape growers who refuses to come to an agreement with UFW. Much of the film boils down to these key events in Chávez’s adult life (other milestones include the UFW’s 340-mile “pilgrimage” from Delano to Sacramento and the first of three hunger strikes Chávez carries out), but Luna never really gets to the heart of each matter and appears to be scrolling down a checklist to make sure he hasn’t missed anything supporters would be disappointed not to see.

Recently in Screens & Tech
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus